Gatwick is the airport for everyone. We aim to be the UK’s most accessible airport, putting the needs of every passenger first and giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly.
Gatwick is passionate about creating a great experience for everyone who travels through our airport, regardless of their circumstances. We know airports can be a stressful experience and present challenges for many people and our services aim to assist all passengers on their journey through Gatwick.
We have taken a leading position to further our ambition to be the UK’s most accessible airport. The services we provide for passengers needing special assistance are comprehensive and we are recognised for our work in this field.
Improving our information
We have created videos aimed at helping our passengers with disabilities who may want to travel independently or semi-independently through the airport. The videos show the airport journey from arrival to the gate from the perspective of Marc Powell from the RNIB, who is partially sighted, and Sophie Bradbury-Cox who uses her own powered wheelchair.
Leading the way
We were the first airport in the UK to introduce a Hidden Disability Lanyard alongside OCS, our previous special assistance provider. This was designed to increase our support for passengers with autism, dementia and other hidden disabilities. The lanyard provides staff with a discreet signal that passengers, their families or carers may require additional assistance when travelling. It is entirely voluntary and can be collected free of charge from any of Gatwick’s assistance desks. Since we introduced the lanyard, we estimate that over 100,000 lanyards have been requested.
Following Gatwick’s lead, the hidden disability lanyard has been adopted by all other UK airports, as well as large national retainers such as Tesco, Sainsburys and M&S. International airports are also interested in the scheme, which launched at Seattle Airport in late 2019. We continue to share knowledge and other insight with other airports and the lanyard movement continues to grow, to help improve passenger journeys across the aviation industry.
Around 11% of the UK population has a hidden disability and it is thought that approximately 7% of the UK population potentially avoids air travel because of a hidden disability.
Collaborative working and consultation
Gatwick aims to be the most accessible airport in the UK and as part of achieving this goal, we engage with a broad range of disability groups and charities. Some of the charities and groups that we work with are described below:
These are just some of the local and national groups that we work with. Others include:
- Guide Dogs for the Blind: we offer valuable airport experience for trainee puppies and host familiarisation visits several times a year. This allows the puppies and their trainers to familiarise with the busy airport environment to prepare them for their vital work in the future
- Crohn’s & Colitis UK: we developed improved toilet signage to recognise hidden disabilities like these
- Colostomy UK: We work closely with Colostomy UK to support passengers travelling with a stoma. In 2020 over 1700 Airport Security Officers will be trained in stoma awareness to improve the passenger experience during the security process, and to raise awareness of the needs of passengers with a stoma
- West Sussex ADHD: we work with this local charity to support the needs of passengers or their family members travelling with ADHD
- Action for Deafness: this charity has been instrumental in training our staff to understand the challenges of travelling with a hearing impairment. To date we have trained over 150 staff and sessions are delivered several times a year to help our frontline staff to support passengers with a hearing impairment.
External stakeholder groups
We regularly engage with regulatory agencies, trade bodies and Government departments on the topic of accessible travel. This enables us to share and learn from best practice across the industry, and also ensure Gatwick is represented in the formation of regulation and legislation.
Gatwick already consults with a number of groups about airport operations, including the Passenger Action Group (PAG) and the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (GATCOM). Find out more about engagement and governance.