London Heathrow Airport has partnered with technology company Aira to offer visually impaired passengers on-demand, personalised assistance via the Aira app.
Access to the app and its established network allows passengers to enhance their independence throughout their journey at Heathrow and forms part of the airport’s multi-million pound investment to improve the journeys of all passengers regardless of their requirements.
The free-to-use app connects passengers directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through Heathrow and assists with finding specific locations – including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news affecting their journey.
The app can be accessed by pre-loading it on mobile phones and an agent is available to provide guided assistance on demand upon arrival at Heathrow. Alternatively, passengers can also pre-book special assistance through their airline and seek information on the app at the same time.
Jonathan Coen, Director of Customer Relations and Service, Heathrow Airport, commented: “We are transforming the assistance service we provide to our passengers and empowering them to be as independent as possible when they are travelling through Heathrow. We have already invested £23 million in an upgraded contract with our special assistance partner, OmniServ, and introducing new equipment, training and technology to help improve our service. Aira takes us one step further – and will deliver a better travel experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their journey via Heathrow.”
The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising by approximately 8% each year, with over one million requests in 2017 alone – more than any other European airport.
Last year, the airport also launched the use of the ‘SignLive’ app which connects passengers to trained British Sign Language translators on demand, before and after their travel through Heathrow.