Air travel can be difficult for people with disabilities, but most airports offer special assistance for passengers who need help making their journey. However, many factors affect the quality of assistance to travelers with disabilities at an airport.
Airports have always focused on providing excellent customer service, but I’ve learned that what makes them special is the perception they give of the assistance rather than the service itself. The human element is what makes this equation work.
Let me use the following example: passenger White will be traveling from northern Europe to southern Europe. At the start, everything is state-of-the-art. The airport wheelchair is new and comfortable, and it is brought to the gate on time and pre-boarded. However, the airport agent escorting him seemed detached, bordering on robot. The interaction between the officer and Mr. White was minimal.
When Mr White arrived at his destination, he was warmly greeted by the airport attendant who gave him the impression that he genuinely cared about his welfare. That said, the wheelchair at the airport is old and hasn’t been serviced for some time. The agent knew that the airport was not fully accessible, so he had to request two service elevators to take Mr. White to the meeting point.
After his trip, Mr. White was interviewed and he pointed out that, in his opinion, the arrival airport offered the best assistance. Mr White had a generally positive reaction to the service at both airports, but said the human connection was a huge part of how he perceived it.
The analysis of Mr. White’s comments gives a clear indication as to where airports should focus their attention and investment. Airport assistance is an essential mission that ensures that air transport is inclusive. This can only be achieved by having the right staff members working in the airport.
A few years ago, I was visiting the special assistance division of a major northern European airport and had the opportunity to speak with a responsible manager. She shared that their first recruiting point was within their own existing workforce. Being naturally curious, I had to ask why.
She kindly said that the human resources department knew how caring and passionate their staff was about helping others, so they promoted job postings for existing employees to save time and ensure their suitability. to this service was already known to their company.
Another Central European airport has a slightly different, but still effective, approach to recruiting special assistance staff by advertising temporary and part-time job vacancies to trainees and graduates in the care sector. This provides them with a wide range of potential employees who can be invaluable in many situations. In this scenario, training for newly hired employees is also shorter because they are already familiar with areas such as manual handling, manual lifting, and emergency response.
Over time, I have closely followed the feedback from these two airports and must say that management’s efforts to recruit employees in this innovative way have paid off. Passengers requiring additional assistance at these two airports rate the quality of service significantly higher than passengers elsewhere on the continent.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the recruiting process that needs to be considered for it to work effectively. As such, I am available for in-depth discussions with airports and service providers concerned with optimizing their recruitment process.
In the future, technology will prove essential in helping people with disabilities maintain their independence while traveling through the airport – but for those who need extra support, having the right people on hand really will make all the difference. the difference.