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-   -   If we have trouble at LHR, spare a thought for this chap (

SpurMan Sep 23, 13 3:52 pm

If we have trouble at LHR, spare a thought for this chap
Nice to see LHR and BA, going the extra mile for this chap. And the poor fellow has to go from A10 every time he flies!!!

Heathrow Airport recreates departure day for a young man with autism
By Carolyn Atkinson & Kevin Core
Disability reporter, BBC Radio 4's You and Yours

Aaran Stewart does not react well to change.

The 21-year-old has severe autism and obsessive compulsive disorder, but has to negotiate the hectic bustle of Heathrow airport to attend Boston Higashi High School.

To cater for him, staff have attempted to recreate the same conditions every time he flies.

Four times a year for five years, Aaran has met the same airport staff, at the same check in desk, visiting the same shops, leaving from the same gate onto a plane on which the exact same seats are reserved.

Speaking to Radio 4's You & Yours at the airport his mother Amanda said Aaran would not be able to fly if any of the details were different.

She said: "Without the procedure we wouldn't be getting on the plane. It has to be carried out absolutely pristinely otherwise we'll end up with a problem."

The routine includes a visit to shops before heading to the same gate, gate A10. There has been changes however, as one of the outlets on his route has changed hands.

“You have a right to extra assistance at no cost throughout your journey.”
Disability Consultant Geoff Adams-Spink

Mrs Stewart said: "It was an HMV but now it's a Dixons, so he retraced his steps inside as if it was HMV.

"It's routine based. If there are any delays he'll think you're going to try to change something which will then panic him. When we get to the gate he'll settle.

"Everything's gone to plan, he'll wait for the bus, we've got the seats we need and we're off!"

Mrs Stewart later explained that on arrival the bus did not display the flight number due to a malfunction on the screen, which led to Aaran growing suspicious about its destination.

Fortunately the driver was able to quickly swap buses so he could display BA215 which resulted in Aaran getting on board and making his flight.

Mark Hicks, Head of Passenger Support Services at Heathrow said usually up to 2,500 people with disabilities including reduced mobility will use the airport in a day, from people with visual impairment to older people with reduced mobility.

Asked about whether the general experience of people with disabilities in airports had worsened, he said people notifying them ahead of their arrival did improve service, but the forecasts for the day could occasionally be outstripped by demand.

He added they were striving for a balance which allowed people to retain their ability to travel spontaneously while meeting their needs.

Disability Consultant Geoff Adam Spink said of Aaran's experience: "Hats off to the people who organise it. All too often it's wheelchairs all round and it doesn't matter what your disability is, someone will turn up with a wheelchair and can get quite irritated if you don't sit in it.

"Your rights are governed by EU legislation. The EU has updated its guidelines and you have a right to extra assistance at no cost throughout your journey."

Genius1 Sep 23, 13 3:58 pm

Was just about to post this!

Explains certain use of A10 I guess.

browserden Sep 23, 13 4:34 pm

If he had status then they'd have to put the good food on in the lounges when he was travelling, seeing the nice buffet replaced with gloop could cause major panic attacks.

Does this mean everyone on that flight uses A10 or do they bus him specially?

It's good to know that the airport can deal with some unusual disabilities. He's probably a very intelligent person and definitely has an eye for detail but severe autism like that must make life extremely difficult.

I'm curious how serious it is. Would the staff wearing different uniforms cause issues? What about changing the aircraft type used on the route?

Schultzois Sep 23, 13 6:50 pm

^ to BA for handling this gracefully over and over, from what it sounds

Originally Posted by browserden (Post 21492325)
Does this mean everyone on that flight uses A10 or do they bus him specially?

I wondered about this, too... it would be a bit of a challenge to ensure the aircraft used is always at a remote stand in order to board from A10.

So assuming that's not the case, the DWKWIAs now have a trick to getting a private transfer to their aircraft, no matter which gate it's on! ;):p

erik123 Sep 23, 13 7:05 pm

Why didn't they do that for Dennis Bergkamp?

Stez Sep 23, 13 7:18 pm

It highlights that disabilities ought to be handled on an individual basis as even within a "category", there can be quite a range of different responses.

Furthermore, it shows that no one should jump to conclusions on appearances when someone may look like that he/she doesn't need special assistance.

Kudos to BA for making the efforts for this particular gentleman, but they do have a long way to go unfortunately.

JohnnyColombia Sep 23, 13 7:18 pm

Originally Posted by erik123 (Post 21493000)
Why didn't they do that for Dennis Bergkamp?

This is the chortliest comment I have ever read on FT :D

ETA: Way to go though BAA/BA

Kaneohe0850 Sep 23, 13 11:36 pm

An incredible gesture by BA! ^^^

Flexible preferences Sep 24, 13 3:38 am

Very heartwarming.

astroflyer Sep 24, 13 1:31 pm

Total hats off to BA for this excellent level of accommodation. This shows some real respect for their disabled passengers.

Flier74 Sep 24, 13 3:04 pm

Reading this teally made me smile and made my day. What a lovely gesture and joint effort by BA and HAL
Lets hope this does not get dragged down by other users' so called bad experiences :)

Disco Volante Sep 24, 13 3:15 pm

I wonder how he would react to an upgrade to F?

londonbus Sep 24, 13 4:00 pm

Originally Posted by Disco Volante (Post 21498170)
I wonder how he would react to an upgrade to F?

Not well. My son (aged 10) has Asperger's (a mild form of autism) - he loves routine.

Mind you I mentioned Club World on my last long-haul trip. He's now intrigued by the concept of a flat bed on a plane. He's only ever travelled shorthaul with U2/FR....

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