Luton Airport slammed for help given to disabled passengers

London Luton Airport has been branded the worst airport for helping disabled people and passengers with reduced mobility, in an official report released today by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
Luton Airport has come under fire for its treatment of disabled passengersLuton Airport has come under fire for its treatment of disabled passengers
Luton Airport has come under fire for its treatment of disabled passengers

The report, over a seven-month period between 1 April and 31 October 2022 assessed 16 of the largest UK airports, detailing those airports that have succeeded in making improvements, as well as those that need to put in place further improvements to ensure that in 2023 disabled people and people with reduced mobility receive the standard of service to which they are entitled.

In its comments on London Luton, the report states: “Too many passengers at the airport have been waiting for unacceptable amounts of time for assistance on arriving flights on too many occasions. This is despite the number of disabled and less mobile passengers being assisted proportionally remaining about the same as in 2019, unlike at some other airports.”

Earlier this year, the regulator wrote to airports informing them that the experience passengers received was unacceptable and told those who were underperforming that it expected them to do more to improve the quality of assistance.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority required several airports to put in place action plans, together with airlines, which saw marked improvements in performance.

This drove improvements towards the end of the summer period, but overall, the regulator ranked London Luton as the worst-performing airport having failed to reach performance targets and for failing to make significant improvements to the assistance it provided between 1 April and 31 October 2022.

A total of eight airports were ranked as ‘poor’ in early months of the reporting period as too many disabled passengers and passengers with reduced mobility were waiting for unacceptably long periods for assistance on arrival. However, following significant progress, Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester were rated as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’ by the end of the reporting period.

Bristol, Leeds Bradford and London Heathrow are still deemed as needing improvement at the time of publication, as passengers have not seen sufficient improvements in the provision of service. Only London Luton Airport continues to be ranked as poor.

Paul Smith, Director of Consumers at UKCAA, said: “The aviation industry has faced unprecedented challenges, but too many passengers at UK airports have been waiting for unacceptable amounts of time for assistance on arriving flights on too many occasions.

“We strongly believe that everyone should have access to air travel, and we welcome the substantial improvements that airports have made for disabled and less mobile passengers.”

A London Luton Airport spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing a simple and friendly experience for all passengers, and we’re sorry that we have fallen short on this occasion. Despite all of the post pandemic challenges this year, LLA has consistently been one of the top performing airports in the CAA’s customer satisfaction survey, with our Special Assistance service being rated four out of five by our passengers. We have been working with our service provider Wilson James, to improve assistance times for arriving passengers with reduced mobility, the one area in which we missed the CAA target. A number of improvements have already been made and we’re now focused on working with our partners to achieve the highest standards.”