With the summer coming to a close, there's still time for a last-minute getaway. As a disabled person, it can sometimes be stressful to travel - particularly by plane when I am not only separated from my luggage, but also my wheelchair and other mobility aids. However, I am a seasoned traveller, for both work and leisure, and have built up a routine now when flying.
Where possible I prefer to use airports I am familiar with including Newcastle, Bristol, London City and London Heathrow - however I do often find myself travelling through other locations too. Airports often have sprawling layouts and can be busy at times making it difficult for me to see the signage of where to go to get through security, grab a preflight meal or find the toilets. Prior to travelling, I always prebook any assistance I need in advance directly with the airline and look up both the landside and airside airport information via the airport website and check for any Detailed Access Guides on the AccessAble App.
Using the AccessAble App allows me to see how to get into an airport including the location of level access, the width of entrance doors the access guides also to identify what additional facilities and services are available inside such as a fixed induction loop. In the Newcastle Airport AccessAble Detailed Access Guide images are included, these allow you to familiarise yourself with the entrance prior to arrival and also give an example of the airport’s dementia-friendly purple signage. The signage includes large icons, which I rely on for navigation when I suffer with fatigue and get disoriented in busy environments.
Once I notify the check in staff that I have prebooked assistance, they put a luggage tag on my wheelchair and tell me what time and where I am to meet the staff that will load my wheelchair onto the plane. Many airports now give Sunflower Lanyards to passengers with hidden disabilities, facilitating assistance by airport staff. In May this year Newcastle Airport opened up a sensory room providing an area for relaxation and de-escalation for those with hidden disabilities such as autism, dementia, sensory and mental health issues if they are overwhelmed by the busy airport environment.
Once through security I am often on the hunt for food, refreshments and last minute items that I have forgotten to pack. The AccessAble Detailed Access Guides for airports can include shops and services in the airport airside. The above example is taken from London City Airport listing all the shops and restaurants at departure gates 1 and 2a and can help you to judge if places are accessible for yourself to dine or shop in.
The last thing I do before heading to the departure gate is pop to the toilets. More airports, including Newcastle, are now adopting inclusive disabled toilet signage to support those with invisible disabilities. The AccessAble App can also help you find the location, dimensions and facilities of the toilets as well as assist with finding the nearest Changing Places toilet.
Once I drop off my wheelchair at the gate I am assisted onto the plane. Meanwhile my wheelchair is tied down in the hold or is placed in a cargo bin for safe and secure transport - ready to greet me on the other side.
If you are planning a break away for some late summer sunshine and have access requirements, why not try AccessAble's App and Website full of free independently verified acessibility infomation for thousands of venues including airports in the UK. You can visit our Website at www.AccessAble.co.uk or download our free App from your phone's App Store.