My Dubai trip – Part 1 Preparation
Since I became paralysed from the chest down following an accident earlier this year, I have not left the UK. I am wheelchair bound and so, my life is restricted in some ways and of course, deciding to go abroad requires an element of prior preparation but I decided that it was time to look at travelling and so, I made the decision to begin my preparation by contacting a number of airlines to find out more about how they can assist me as a disabled traveller.
There were a number of reasons for the call, the first was to put my mind at ease and the second was to actually find out what they do to ensure my safety. I phoned a number of airlines – British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and TUI (previously known as Thomson Airways) and posed a couple of questions to them as I needed to be sure before I went ahead and parted with my cash.
The first question I had was “What happens to travellers with disabilities during an emergency aircraft evacuation?”.
The second question “Is there a personalised ‘on board’ safety briefing for those passengers who have a disability as I assume that cabin crews are required to provide this to any person who is unable to evacuate the aircraft unassisted?”
Now, many people may think that these seem like questions that are never asked but they should be and there is a reason why I asked them, however, the response to the first question was not what I expected. The only airline to respond was British Airways and they explained that should I be unable to reach an emergency exit unaided, I would be required to travel with a safety assistant. The safety assistant would then be given the job of ensuring I can vacate the aircraft safely and quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Again, the second question was only answered by British Airways. They explained the safety brief is the same for everyone on the plane. However, if there was anything that required further explaining, then the cabin crew are more than happy to talk through it. It was re-assuring to know that they were willing to go through the safety brief with me.
Following on from my questions and after having only one response, I decide to book my flight with British Airways. Knowing that I was flying with an airline that at least responded and explained how I can travel as a disabled traveller eased my concerns by a considerable amount.
With the holiday preparation out of the way and tickets booked safe in the knowledge that I knew how to remain safe when flying should there be an emergency evacuation, I made my way to Heathrow Airport and the flight taking me to Dubai. I felt that this was an important part of the journey and had to find out the answers to my questions as a disabled traveller.
To find out more check out Part 2 – My Experience at Heathrow Airport and the Flight to Dubai.
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