“Record numbers of passengers with disabilities are travelling through UK airports, and so it’s hugely important that the assistance meets their particular needs,” said Matt Buffey, head of consumer protection at the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
“We know that people with hidden disabilities can find airports difficult and stressful places, in particular the security search, and we are pleased to see how well airports have responded in improving the assistance they offer and tailoring to the needs of people with hidden disabilities.”
Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, said: “Travelling by air can be a daunting experience for those with hidden disabilities.
“Whilst there is still more to do, we should recognise the real progress that has been made by airports since the CAA introduced requirements for specific assistance services for people with non-visible disabilities.”
The report acknowledged that further work needs to be done to ensure all UK airports continue to provide consistent and high quality assistance services to disabled people, including people with hidden disabilities.
It comes after several high profile stories about those with hidden or invisible disabilities having bad experiences at UK airports. In January 2018, a disabled passenger branded Stansted Airport staff “disgusting” after she was denied assistance because she “didn’t look disabled”.
Nathalie Allport-Grantham, 23, was flying to Nice with Ryanair on 31 December when a member of staff refused her the assistance she had confirmed ahead of her flight.
She had requested the use of a wheelchair to help her to the gate, but said it was later taken away from her by airport staff who then told her that she was “wasting their time” by asking for help.
Stansted Airport told The Independent: “Of course, we are very disappointed to hear about Ms Allport-Grantham’s experience and apologise for any distress caused.
“Special assistance is booked directly with the airline and handled by the airport’s PRM provider Omniserv. We are speaking to the provider to find out more about the circumstances of the incident.