Travelling with my Aunt
Travelling whilst being disabled in one shape or form must be one of the hardest things to contend with.
Whist travelling recently in Europe with a disabled elderly Aunt, I was amazed at the broad spectrum of service (and non-service) that one encounters.
We had arrived at Gatwick having duly telephoned ahead for assistance (as they suggest when booking this service). We then stood at the freezing cold entrance to the airport with snow still on the ground. We waited and waited, finally after another two more phonecalls a chap sauntered down the ramp, took one look at us and said he would have to go and get a wheelchair. There were no introductions or acknowledgement of my Aunt, he just disappeared.
We finally got through customs and into the departure lounge, where we went up to the information section and were given a bleeper rather like the ones you get in restaurants. When the bleeper went off, we went back to the information section and again waited and waited, my Aunt by now was becoming more and more agitated as the elderly do find these situations very stressful. She was becoming increasing concerned that we would miss our flight.
By some miracle, a man turned up with an Airport buggy and saw her distress and even though I don’t think he was assigned to us, helped us through to the gate, where things seemed to improve.
Why is it in this county in particular, we seem to have issues with giving continuous good customer service? it is either very good or extremely bad, there seems to be no in between, I have to say that the return journey was much better and in particular I noticed how much more ‘caring’ the staff were, and respectful of my Aunt's disability, and it wasn’t just a ‘job’
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Angela Green, West London
2 June 2010, 06:17AM
The problems that you had at Gatwick do seem to be typically British. We now seem incapable of providing any kind of service with courtesy. It is not just the disabled that suffer, people do not seem to take responsibility seriously.
Glenda Ruskin, Warminster
2 June 2010, 12:55PM
It is sad that we do not look after our own. I took my elderly Dad to Portugal and everywhere we went the Portuguese were really nice to him. BA tolerated him and tolerated me.
3 June 2010, 12:30PM
A lot of this could come down to poor training/management and low pay and staff working long hours, although this is still no excuse for bad customer service. Airport staff seem to have low moral.
3 June 2010, 02:19PM
You would think that service for disabled travellers would be standard/consistent by now. Regulations have been around for two decades or so now, it saddens me the lack of care some aircraft staff have for the disabled.
Martin T, London
4 June 2010, 12:19PM
I think this poor treatment problem applies to all travellers, not just the disabled. Airports will need to be extra nice and civil to us in the future, with the price of plane tickets surely escalating after the ash crisis.
Angela Morgan, Kent
9 June 2010, 06:29AM
I did a flight to the USA with my disabled mother in March and Virgin were very caring and helpful. It did not all go smoothly but the level of care and support was just great.
Glen Harris, Sevenoaks
10 June 2010, 01:41PM
Gatwick airport as far a I am aware is reasonably well equipped for disabled people and those needing special assistance. Both the North and South Terminals have ramps, wider access pathways, telephones at a height accessible to wheelchair users, disabled toilet facilities and reserved seating for disabled people in check-in areas. It seems just the staff can be intolerant at times.
MaryOliver, United Kingdom
12 June 2010, 10:55AM
UK airports have a particular vehicle that they use for transporting the disabled person and their family between the main terminal area and the gate. It is driven along making a frequent beeping noise. This is obviously to warn people that the vehicle is coming (or perhaps that the driver is visually challenged).
14 June 2010, 01:44PM
Unfortunatley I think the level of customer care at Gatwick is terrible. I have a Sister with a disabilty and because it is not visable she felt that the staff made her feel as though she was playing on it to get a better service. They were aloof and unhelpful when boarding the aircraft, shame on them.
21 July 2010, 07:56AM
Disability's come in all shapes and forms, and it is disgraceful how sometimes they get overlooked, I think we need to show more compassion in this country, something we seem to lack at times.
Richard, East Sussex
15 November 2010, 10:39AM
Once again its seem's this country lets down the people that matter. Regardless of ability we are all paying customers and it is so infuriating that basic customer service can not be met.
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