The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has issued new guidelines aimed at helping airlines and handling agents improve the travel experience for passengers with disabilities.
The guidelines aim to provide safe, reliable and dignified transport for passengers with disabilities, with a focus on the safe and efficient transport of mobility aids.
The guidelines come after a resolution was approved at the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in 2019, which prioritized the need for safe transport for passengers with disabilities.
“Airlines are committed to ensuring passengers with disabilities can travel with dignity, confidence and comfort,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security. “This new guidance, created in partnership with key players in the travel chain, will improve service, and significantly reduce damage to these vital devices that are often an extension to the body of a passenger with a disability,” he added
The new guidance includes several key elements such as:
- Better processes for booking and information exchange, including the use of Special Service Request (SSR) and Passenger Name Requirement (PNR) codes to give advance information on the specifications of mobility aids
- A recommendation to create an electronic mobility aid tag, fixed to the mobility aid and containing technical information which will help airlines and ground handlers transport the aid safely
- Advice to airlines on developing a communications toolkit for engaging with passengers with disabilities, including a clearly signposted and accessible website area
- Best practices for loading, collection and return of mobility aids
- A recommendation for dedicated specialized ramp personnel to be trained and deployed to handle mobility aids
- Guidance for how to properly resolve instances where mobility aids are damaged
- Revised and enhanced training of ground handlers and airline staff
“Experience shows that communication is key to improving the handling of mobility aids,” said Careen. “This guidance sets out steps for passengers, airlines, and the travel chain to exchange information at every stage of the travel journey. It will help airlines perform better and give passengers using mobility aids greater confidence,” he added.
The guidelines are based on industry best practices and will continue to be revised and expanded over time, with the goal of developing industry standards.
Other aspects of the guidelines include recommendations for airport designs to meet accessibility standards, guidance on compliance with dangerous goods regulations, and step-by-step instructions on safely and securely loading mobility aids on board.
The new guidelines from IATA aim to provide a better travel experience for passengers with disabilities and ensure that their mobility aids are transported safely and efficiently.