Regulator finds disabled passengers missed flights due to Heathrow’s failings

A plane lands on the southern runway at London Heathrow Airport.
A plane lands on the southern runway at London Heathrow Airport Credit: PA

Many disabled and less mobile passengers missed summer flights at Heathrow due to the airport’s poor accessibility performance, the aviation regulator has found.

Bristol, Leeds Bradford and Luton Airports were also criticised by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for their “unacceptable level of service to disabled people”.

The CAA did not specify how many passengers missed flights at Heathrow but described the total as “unacceptable”.

Its report highlighted the “particularly poor performance” at Terminal 5, where “many passengers” did not make connecting departures.

Some disabled and less mobile passengers at the west London airport’s Terminal 3 were also forced to wait for more than an hour to be transferred from one piece of equipment to another.

That contravened CAA guidance.

Aberdeen, Belfast International, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London City Airports were rated as “very good” for their accessibility performance during the whole period analysed, which was between the start of April and the end of October.

'Unprecedented challenges'

Paul Smith, director of consumers at the CAA, 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.

“We will continue to consider whether we need to take further action where airports are not delivering an acceptable level of performance, and not showing sufficient and sustained improvements.

“We want to see immediate further improvements, as well as airports being well prepared to provide a high-quality service during next year.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know