The Special Assistance Desk at Norwich Airport…
…used to be all about providing wheelchairs for people with reduced mobility – disabilities that were far from hidden. Now, the new signs behind the desk point to the fact that Norwich Airport is also meeting the needs those with hidden disabilities, which can only be good news for those concerned about their elderly parents contemplating a summer holiday this year.
In 2015/6, Norwich was named as one of 10 airports rated ‘very good’ at providing a high standard of assistance. It also got a special mention in a Civil Aviation Authority Airport performance report for consulting with organisations representing non-physical disabilities, and implementing a number of initiatives designed to improve the service for this group of passengers and their families and friends.
Dementia Friendly Norwich pledge
Last summer, for instance, it become one of the first UK airports to sign the Autism Charter, and it is one of the latest organisations to join Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance and the Supporting Dementia Friendly Norwich campaign. One of its pledges is to encourage passengers with dementia and their carers to visit and tour the facilities prior to the day of travel – the hope is that this will remove any concerns or worries and give them confidence to use air travel. Airport Security Manager Jamie Price is responsible for the Special Assistance Service and is gearing up for the busy holiday season which begins in earnest from May 1 and will last all the way through to October 31.
Pre-book to avoid disappointment
He advises people in need of Special Assistance to pre-book. For example, the latest figures show that, in March, 100 per cent of the 90 people with reduced mobility who had pre-booked were seen within 10 minutes of making themselves known. It’s also worth noting that, at the desk, people with pick up a discreet ‘supporting hidden disabilities’ blue wristband to wear whilst they are at the airport.
Walking through the terminal building, Jamie explains that, over the summer, by far the busiest day of the week will be Friday and by far the busiest period will be between noon and 2pm, when flights will be departing for destinations such as Jersey. ‘The Jersey flight is very popular with a certain demographic,’ says Jamie.
Trained staff will be on hand to assist people, with reduced mobility or dementia, during this busy two hour window. He adds: ‘With the older population, people with pacemakers might be worried about going through the metal detector machines and activating the alarms.’ But the Special Assistance Team are there to help with each and every stage of the passenger’s journey through the airport, including the cabin baggage search area.
Once through the departure lounge, Norwich Airport has invested in equipment such as Aviramps to aid people with reduced mobility to board the aircraft. The equipment has received positive feedback from passengers as it reduces the strain of climbing aircraft steps whilst maintaining individual’s independence and dignity. And Jamie says the Airport is continuing to invest in such equipment.
Then, after your parents have holidayed in the sun for a week or two, the Special Assistance team will once again be on hand to help them negotiate the arrivals hall and beyond. Jamie concludes: ‘My team are here to help.’
Top Travelling Tips
- Before your departure date, why not book an airport familiarisation tour? This tour will let you experience the airport journey prior to your day of travel and will ease any concerns or fears you may have.
- If you need special assistance pre-book this when you arrange your flights. You can do this via your travel agent, airline/holiday booking company website or visit www.norwichairport.co.uk for more information.
- Before you leave home to arrive at the airport for your flight, check that everyone has their passports, airline tickets, visas (if needed) and insurance policies. The same applies when leaving your holiday accommodation for your return journey!
- Try and pack light – if you can manage to travel with only hand luggage, which for journeys of less than a week can be done, it will save you both time and money. But do check the airline’s hand luggage maximum sizes/weight (via airline website) as these vary considerably from airline to airline.
- Weigh your luggage or book and pay for additional bags before your travel so that you don’t have any issues at check-in.
- If you’re driving to the airport check that there are no road works and always leave a little extra time if travelling at busy times of the year. Book your airport parking in advance; this can save you money.
- You should also check-in online as this will save you time when you get to the airport.
- Get ready for security checks. Take off your coats, jackets and belts, remove electronic items from their bags and covers BEFORE you get to the security person. Also remember that you can only take liquids, including toothpastes, in 100ml containers which must be placed in one clear plastic bag which we do provide free at the airport. Doing these simple things will speed things up for you and everyone else in the queue.
- All medication over 100ml should be accompanied by documentary proof of authenticity, such as a prescription or letter from a medical practitioner confirming that you need them for your journey. Liquid medication that is not required on the flight should be carried as hold luggage.
For more information, visit Norwich Airport
You might also find Silver Travel Advisor useful.
And here are some of our holiday blogs below.