Disabled travellers are ‘afterthought’, says specialist operator

A specialist tour operator has accused airports of cutting costs and giving special assistance contracts to the cheapest bidder, following the death of a disabled traveller at Gatwick.

Angus Drummond, chief executive and founder of Limitless Travel, made his comments after a passenger with restricted mobility died at the airport after leaving an aircraft.

“This is a very upsetting and truly troubling incident – the vulnerability and helplessness that man must have felt being left by himself on a plane is sad – but in all honesty, it’s not surprising and is commonplace,” said Drummond.

“As shocking as it is to say this, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

“Does it take a death for airports to start taking action and for people to really wake up to the needs of disabled people?

“For too long now, airports have been cutting costs and giving special assistance contracts out to the cheapest bidder – often alongside the cleaning contracts.

“This means that the special assistance team are chronically understaffed and underpaid – having to deliver a service they are just not equipped to do.

“With increased shortages at airports it will once again be disabled people who are left last, are an afterthought for all and have to suffer most.”

He added: “If done properly it can be a seamless and rewarding experience for all.

“In Spain, the special assistance is well-staffed and well-paid – and the service is incredible.

“When will change occur in the UK? Will the government, or anyone, ever hold people to account or just fall back on the whimsical DDA [Disability Discrimination Act] which merely says reasonable adjustments must be made?”

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