We're passionate about passenger experience and are committed to delivering the best services to those with disabilities. With multiple passenger touch points including check in, security and retail, how we interact and treat passengers impacts on their journey, and in turn, the way in which they perceive the reputation of our clients, airports and airlines. We've initiated debate throughout the industry, conducting an extensive research programme of the entire customer experience for disabled passengers.
Challenging for Change - a report on disabled passengers' experience of air travel from OCS
The outcome of the research was a published report called Challenging for Change - insights and recommendations to improve the passenger journey
In the report, we identified areas where we could improve the user experience, and in doing so, achieve excellent customer perceptions for our clients. We've implemented a series of changes to reduce complaints, improve compliments, increase engagement with disabled people and engage the industry to make further changes. In addition, we've invested in new technology to reduce waiting times for passengers and delays in boarding aircraft, and the resulting cost to airlines. We ensure passengers receive a personalised, safe, secure and enjoyable journey through the airport.
Specialist training and enhancing passenger confidence to travel
Our teams are highly trained in ensuring a safe journey through the airport for passengers who require assistance. Air travel is often complex and disabled passengers may experience increased fear and anxiety when it comes to accessing and navigating the airport. We know that not all disabilities are obvious. And we know that sometimes there is a perception of airport assistance services only being for 'wheelchair users'. This can lead to passengers who need assistance not wanting to ask for support, which can result in delays at check-in and security.
Our Customer Care Agents are specifically trained and coached to recognise and support those with 'hidden disabilities' including:
- mental health
- hearing impairment
- visual impairment and
- sensory impairments.
All of our OCS colleagues now receive Dementia Friends Training, and hidden disability awareness has been built into all of our induction and refresher training.
We've also introduced a new initiative to ensure people with a hidden disability are confident in using the airports where we deliver the PRM service.
Award-winning innovation in PRM services
Navigating your way through a busy airport environment can be a challenging experience, but for passengers with hidden disabilities and their families, there are further complexities.
In addition to our trained and experienced frontline staff, with the support of local community and disability groups and recognised Charities, we have launched an innovative airport-wide approach to improve the journey for these passengers.
We've introduced a unique hidden disability lanyard that can be worn by passengers and acts as a discrete sign to all airport staff that additional support may be required as they travel through the airport.
This could simply mean:
- giving them more time to prepare at check-in or security
- allowing them to remain with their family at all times
- ensuring they receive a comprehensive briefing on what to expect as they travel through the airport, and
- helping them read a departure board or sign.
This has successfully been implemented across several UK airports giving support to passengers when it is needed without highlighting their needs to everyone. Both Birmingham and Bristol airports have now received the NAS 'Autism Friendly' Charter Mark and both Airports are also Dementia Friendly.
In recognition of the work we've done and the training we've put in place, Michael Connolly, Regional Training and Standards Manager for OCS, has been appointed as one of the Minister for Disabled People's new disability champions for the Aviation sector. The Rt. Honourable Sarah Newton MP visited Birmingham Airport to see first-hand the work that is being done by OCS to improve the standard of service we offer for our special assistance passengers.
Passengers or their families and carers travelling through Bristol Airport can request a booklet in advance from us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org providing their name, departure date and relevant flight information. Alternatively, the booklet is available on the Bristol Airport website.
To book OCS passenger assistance at the airports we service, please visit the airport website:
Technology and sustainable innovation - reducing delays for passengers and airlines and driving commercial efficiencies
As the volume of passengers increases year on year, the more important it becomes to provide excellent PRM services for those who need assistance. Services must be delivered faster, more efficiently and with safety at the heart of the passenger journey, to minimise any detrimental impact to on-time performance, which can be costly to all involved.
Our reputation is based on our delivery of an efficient, reliable, high quality and innovative service.
We use the latest technologies to improve operational efficiencies. Locating wheelchairs in a busy airport can lead to delays for passengers and ultimately the airline. We can use a barcoding system for wheelchairs so we know exactly where they are and what condition they're in. Our unique real-time resource allocation system supports the planning and allocation of staff and equipment to best meet specific passenger needs and gives us and our clients complete visibility of PRM operations. The system creates optimum shift pattern models using real time flight and passenger information. The result is reduced operational costs and increased productivity.
Key benefits for the client include:
- optimised resource achieving value for money
- reliable, efficient services that reduce delays, and
- passenger satisfaction and confidence in the service, making them more likely to return.
An efficient PRM service minimises the delays for the passenger and the Airline. It also reduces the time spent on transfers, giving passengers the opportunity to spend more time enjoying the Airport experience, which increases revenues for Airport retailers.
We continue to introduce a range of innovative measures, like self-operating mobility scooters, to establish our clients as internationally recognised friendly airports and airlines for passengers with disabilities.
Get in touch with us to find out more about our passenger assistance services and how we can help you.
Delivering the best passenger experience
Every passenger is unique. That’s why our assistance services are always tailored to each passenger in our care. We know that there’s a need to be flexible and sensitive to changes in passenger requirements throughout their journey with us.
Our experience, systems and processes allow us to understand each individual requirement and share accurate passenger information to ensure that disabled passengers are able to travel with confidence independently or accompanied.
We're continually developing our service to:
- improve the passenger experience
- enable more passengers with disabilities to use air travel
- ensure on-time performance (OTP) for airlines, and
- enhance revenue opportunities for airports.
So, whether it's business or pleasure, we'll always be there at the start and the end of the journey, making the passenger experience a great one and exceeding expectations.