Special Assistance at airports


#1

Hi all,

i am in spain at the moment, but would like to share my experience and subsequent emails.  Please remember to book your special assistance pre flight.

Good morning,

I travelled from Luton to Alicante on Monday 7th September on the 7.40pm easy jet flight.  I had booked special assistance as I have Parkinson's disease and don't know how it's going to effect me at any given time.
I fortunately felt I did not require a wheelchair, but arranged assistance from the lounge to the gate as I can only walk short distances.
When I arrived at the special assistance bay at 6.40pm, the staff seemed stressed by the fact that 12 passengers on the flight needed assistance.  It became obvious that there was indeed a major staff shortage.  Staff were lining up wheelchairs in 3,s and pulling them towards the lifts together.  I felt compelled to help and pushed two chairs to the lifts myself.
When we were 'loaded' onto the bus the driver also seemed stressed.  When we got to the plane door he got angry whilst rising the but to the correct level, using choice language.
When I got to my seat on the plane, I felt stressed.
I just wanted to share my thoughts that this experience was degrading for those involved, stressful, and above all dangerous because had there been an emergency situation it would have been disastrous.

I hope my points raised help to make others experiences better.

With kind regards
 

Hello Ms Prentice,

Many thanks for your feedback and observations. This refers to EZY2227 I believe. We are in fact already aware of this matter as the Airline Despatcher attributed a 3 minute delay to the flight due to "Large volume of WCH pax to board into the cabin" [verbatim quote from the handling agent's ramp report – and “pax” is industry short-hand for passenger by the way].

The issue is not actually a lack of staff - indeed it is the complete reverse here now, in that our provider - OCS UK; tends to over resource the 'people' side of the operation now.

The problem actually tends to be around instantaneous peaks in customer demand, and particularly to and from certain destinations (for example Alicante) where typically many of the customers requiring assistance pre-notify us of their needs - but many regrettably do not. Regardless of whether a customer has pre-notified or not, we do not discriminate and expect OCS to deliver to same level of service to all.

OCS also have to deal with off-schedule operations by the Airlines (early and late) and are expected by them (and of course our customers) to provide a safe and expeditious service in all cases.

So for example, I can tell you that yesterday (9th September) OCS unexpectedly had to service 17 x flights within a single one hour time slot - this being a combination of in and outbound flights and on and off schedule operations (and of course a proportion of un-notified customers). OCS successfully achieved this with the staff they had available and with all their material resources deployed. As a result  I actually intend to send them a message of congratulation for their efforts in that regard later today.

You mention that there were 12 x customers on the same flight to Alicante who required assistance, which is actually quite an exceptional number - most usually we would expect to see up to 8 or 9 special assistance customers on a single flight.

Thus you will see there is of course a potential for our colleagues to get (and appear) stressed at these times, particularly as they are always operating under the triple pressures of providing a safe, customer friendly and on-time service (the latter being a particular concern of our Airline partners). So for any manifestation of that on the 7th, I do of course apologise on behalf of the Airport and OCS.

However the matter of the 'choice language' is one that I will be raising separately with OCS management, because they can easily identify personnel from job sheets, and they will assuredly be speaking to the people concerned to remind them of the proper behaviour that is expected of them.

I do hope that this has not dissuaded you too much from choosing to use London Luton Airport again in the future and if there is any way that I can assist you in this or any other matter please feel free to contact me.

Many thanks again for your observations – and indeed for any assistance that you offered our OCS colleagues that day.

Kind regards,

Ian Briggs
Accessibility Manager
London Luton Airport Operations Limited

 

Good afternoon Ian and thank you for you're quick response.

I take on board what you are saying and completely understand.
Just as an onlooker, had I been aware that the departure gat was within 100m of the lounge, I would have in no way bothered you're team and in fact given them one less headache.  If this information were available at checkin I feel it would lead to a much more streamline operation.
As I said before, having a disability, or disease is enough to cope with, what happened in the lead up to this flight was degrading.
I'm pleased that you're staff managed the high turnover of WCH pax to board on cabin yesterday, it's always nice to tick off data and feel successful.  But please bear in mind, we are still people!

Kind regards

 

is it me??

 


#2

We were at a family occasion in Devon and assistance was great apart from the way home.we got to Exeter and it all seemed fine wheelchair waiting took me to the gate. a group of jolly follks going to Spain. igot to one of 3 gates and was asked take shoes off,belt off, wallet phone. I managed with help from my wife, then the good bit. A jobsworth said get out the chair OK ,under pressure by this time ,I  then she said give me your stick we both argued that I couldnt stand without it.Isaid you sure ,I'll fall .give me the stick. by this time there was a baying horde behind us. I said be it on your head, gave her the stick and Ifell into the security gate ,settin off alarms all over the airport,the horde were ready to lynch me.only 2 gates now. We rushed to the lounge and folk were screaming abuse, it was knackered and a guy had to come and fix it.

Now for the good  bit ,my sister came through eventually and said "some idiot fell into the gate",I looked  up sheepishly and laughed, that idiot was me lol

 


#3

Hi everyone.

I have used airport assistance for 2 holidays now from Manchester to Dalamam ,Turkey.

On both occasions I found the service excellent from both the assistance staff and the security people. Leaving Manchester the last time the plane was delayed by bad weather but the assistance person would not leave me until I was safely aboard.  I don't know if this caused problems for other people waiting for his help but from my point of view I was receiving really good help and having a relaxing start to my holiday.

Regards

mrtoad


#4

This is a very good subject on my return to forum.  Sorry I haven't been around  - just feeling very off but I'm still trying to look at the bright side of llife!!

We went to Ibiza from Stanstead Airport.  Flight leaving 7.30am so check in closed about 6.00a.m..ish. The airport staff were very friendly.  Someone was outside near the car park and from then on, I was treated very well.   The lady took us through to check in, helped us through security by helping me to put my belongings on the table for checking.  She saw that my husband had been stopped (he always sets the alarm off with his hip replacement) so she helped me put my things back together.  She left us to get a few things we wanted; then told to meet her at a certain place and she took us down to the 'plane and saw us on board for our flight.  

The Spanish staff were just as nice and very helpful and it certainly made things much easier to handle.

 

All the best

Casie


#5

I have had mixed experiences in the years I have been travelling alone . Years ago I was wheelchair bound and did not really have any bad issues with travelling .  Help was always supplied although some delays were problematic at times .

After many years of juggling tablets and doses I can now walk slowly to the plane using my stick .  I always get to the gate early and time my doses for max effect when leaving and boarding  . 

However ,  when I ring British Airways and explain to them that I am usually ok without wheelchair assistance  but  I need an aisle seat close to the toilet . Especially on long haul  since my tablets wear off , I have different replies depending on  who I speak to in the call centres .


I am going to the USA next month and after ringing BA twice , plus many emails explaining my Parkinsons symptoms , I can not get a seat unless I stump up an extra  £70 or wait till 24 hours before the flight to check in  online .   Thus ,  I may or may not get my desired seat close to toilet which no one else usually wants anyway .

I had enough airmiles last time to travel First class and it was not a problem , but economy is a different story . The aisle seat at the back is also handy when I need to stretch my legs .  How can I get the message through to the person who answers my request ?


If they understand Parkinsons  or have experience of it then my  request is usually granted . When my call is answered with a  foreign accent I know I have got problems .

   
Any help or advice on this appreciated .     Cheers , Pete.

 

 

 

 


#6

Hi

i have usually had good experiences of special assistance. They nearly always say I have to have a window seat . In case of emergency I might not be able to get out of the aisle seat and would hinder the person sitting next to me. When I tell them I have Parkinsons and need to stretch my legs they give me an aisle seat!

i always say something when they don t give me enough time to pre board. I also explain that not everyone with a disability needs a wheelchair. I ask them to pass on my comments.

bw

samdog


#7

Hi Alison

In answer to your question (to which most of the replies have failed to recognise) is a most resounding .....NO!

Its not your fault at all!

The Accessibility Manager, Ian Briggs has totally passed the buck and is blaming his 'colleagues' at OCS.

I've asked about the gate problem too but just get the same old rhetoric back!

Poker cool


#8

Thank you everyone for you're responses.  I had a much better trip on my return, the staff at Alicante really could not have done more and were respectful of the needs of those requiring assistance and indeed my needs.  The organisation at Luton also seemed to be more organised.

Thank you Peter for you're comments.  I felt disappointed at the time by the response from Ian Briggs to my email.  I did not receive a reply to my response, which hopefully means he took on board what I said.  I don't like to moan or complain and I am grateful to anyone who can assist when I need help, I also appreciate that they are trying to do a job and meet targets.  But, what happened on my journey out was wrong.....it might have been a bad day, but it was awful to witness and I hope by bringing it to Ian Briggs attention, he might be encouraged to think less of targets and more of people.

Ali

x


#9

I would just like to say.

Don’t be shy, use special assistance.
I recently went to Berlin on BA, the flight was full but I was OK. I am currently battling to reduce the time my medz take to kick in. Without my Medz I get festination and freezing. My Medz take anything up to 45 minutes. Anyway crowds at airports  I can do without so when someone said I could get wheeled past the shuffling queues and stoppages, I jumped at the chance (not literally, although I have been known to jump off tall buildings, but that’s another story), and  had a remarkably stress free holiday.