Nobody should feel discouraged travelling by plane; whether it be just a short hop or a several-hour flight to the other side of the world – this is the 21st Century. To that end, not least because it’s arguably the world’s leading airport, Heathrow makes sure it tries to aid those with disabilities or mobility issues as much as possible in getting to and from their flights as quickly and easily as possible. To that end, here are some pointers to help them to help you…
You should contact your airline, tour operator or travel agent and request whatever you need when you book. It’s best to inform them if you intend on bringing a mobility device (wheelchair or scooter). If you require assistance on arrival at Heathrow, you’ll find ‘help points’ – from which you can call for aid – in the long and short stay car parks, as well as the central bus station and the terminal forecourts.
Inside the airport, assistance points are located in Terminal 3 (before security – first floor, above Check-in Zones A and B; after security – additional seating area, behind World Duty Free), Terminal 4 (before security – Check-in Zone B, next to Excess Baggage; after security – Serenity Lounge, to the left of Costa Coffee) and Terminal 5 (before security – Check-in Zone G; after security – The Lichfield Suite, opposite Gate A2).
Should you plan on travelling with an assistance dog (a ‘guide dog’, ‘hearing dog’ or ‘service dog’), you should let your airline know beforehand. The airport has approved relief areas for animals in all five terminals. Note: such a dog has to be registered with the Pet Travel Scheme for it to be allowed to accompany you on a flight.
Getting to Heathrow
• By car – you may well have booked a room at the nearby boutique hotel near Heathrow airport – Park Grand London Heathrow to break down your journey, but still need to park your car as close to the airport as possible; in that case, there’s well signed blue badge parking (permissible for people with disabled drivers’ permits) in all short stay car parks, located close to terminal access routes – if you plan on taking your badge with you abroad but want to park in a blue badge space at the airport, show the badge to the car park’s operator
• By special assistance bus – this service runs for all connecting passengers requiring Heathrow mobility help, while all the airport’s flight connection buses are also accessible for wheelchair/ mobility device users; both are free.
For the hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted, induction loops can be very helpful for picking up important-to-hear sounds by reducing background noise. They can be found throughout the airport – follow the signs featuring a ‘sympathetic ear’ symbol. Hearing-aid-adapted payphones and credit card phones are also available, as are text payphones after Customs in the Arrivals area.
For specific enquiries, call the airport – 24 hours-a-day – on 0844 335 1801 (for text phones, call 0844 571 7410).