Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group

17 Recommendations for Seamless Travel Experience for People of Determination

• A Group of People of Determination Brainstorms in the UAE

• Global airports and carriers advised to enhance travel experience for People with Special Needs

• WHO: People with Special Needs to double to two billion by 2050

• 120 million tourists toured the world in 2018 despite facing different Special Needs

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Airports and airlines are among the top important service facilities, with the latter among the most-widely used means of transportation by travellers, including People with Special Needs, who travel the world for work, tourism, medication or other important purposes. Hence, airports and carriers have to grapple with few challenges from this segment of travellers who look to overcome them by aspiring for the full implementation of ICAO, IATA and ACI recommendations related to the rights of Passengers with Disabilities and the enhancement of the quality of services provided by airports and carriers that are becoming more crowded day by day as a result of growing demand on air travel.

The case assumes strong and greater importance, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that 10-15 percent of the world population need some kind of assistance; something which may affect their mobility and free movement. According to WHO reports, the number of People of Determination is expected to double from one billion at present to two billion by 2050 as a result of improved life expectancy on the one hand, and wars, underdevelopment, deterioration of healthcare services, the spread of diseases, poverty or illiteracy in some countries of the world on the other.

Calculated based on the lower ratio estimated by WHO, which says that People with Special Needs represent 10% of the world population, the number of tourists with Special Needs may reach 120 million out of 1.2 billion tourists who travelled the world in 2018. This is a huge figure that requires reconsideration in terms of providing services catering to the needs and aspirations of this important segment of society, and their rights according to international laws and customs.

In a brainstorming session, a select group of People of Determination in the UAE discussed the major challenges they face in some airports and carriers while travelling around the world, whether on duty as professional experts or athletes, or for tourism, medication or other life activities.

The panellists commended the excellent quality of services provided by airports and airlines in the UAE for Passengers with Disabilities. At the same time, they expressed their full confidence that the relevant authorities will not rest on their laurels with respect to the great achievements made in this domain by virtue of dedicated exhaustive and relentless efforts, but will continue enhancing the experience of Passengers with Disabilities through devising and implementing phased development plans that are bound to ensure the continual upgrade of services, especially smart ones, and eventually make travel an unforgettable experience for People of Determination.

At the end of the session, the panellists appealed to airport and airline operators across the world to emulate the experience of the UAE by developing plans to make airport facilities and carriers friendlier to Passengers with Disabilities, and providing adequate services in accordance with international legislation. They also called for continually improving the experience of this segment of passengers as a natural right, through the adoption of technologies and smart solutions in airports and on-board aircrafts and the provision of qualified and efficient human resources capable of professionally dealing with the different motor, visual, hearing and sensory disabilities, among others.

This brainstorming session comes in line with Dubai Accessible Tourism International Summit which will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, the summit will be organised by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Event Management and will be held from 5 – 6 November at the Hall 5 of Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

17 Recommendations to Improve Travel Experience

The brainstorming session was attended by Siham Al-Rashidi, an employee at the Dubai Land Department and member of the Asian Paralympic Council, Raisa Al Falasi, an employee in the Prime Minister’s Office (both suffering motor disability), and Aisha Al Hosani, an employee of the Dubai Police General Headquarters, and is suffering hearing impairment. The session resulted in a set of necessary recommendations that will contribute to strengthening the global travel and tourism industry and progressing on the goal of making airports and air carriers friendlier to millions of travellers around the world.

The main recommendations are:

Airports​

  1. The deployment of professional staff who are able to deal with the different needs of passengers of determination at check-in, security screening, immigration clearance and other points within the airport facilities, and invite staff to deal with Passengers with Special Needs as ordinary passengers.
  2. Provide airport terminals with sign-language boards (instructional videos) to help Passengers of Determination navigate to the right area to complete travel procedures.
  3. To deploy sign language interpreters across airports to help Passengers with Hearing Impairments.
  4. To provide special vehicles to facilitate the completion of travel procedures for Passengers with Motor Disabilities and enable them to enjoy the airport experience like any normal passenger, so they can visit the duty-free and taste the foods and beverages provided by airport restaurants and cafes.
  5. To provide special security screening devices for People with Motor Disabilities to avoid the embarrassment and stress they may face when they are forced in some airports to leave their wheelchairs for security screening purposes.
  6. The provision of a special mechanism to enable Passengers of Determination to quickly reclaim their baggage and avoid waiting too long in the baggage reclaim area.
  7. The provision of parking places close to the Arrivals area for Passengers of Determination.
  8. To promulgate the adoption by world airports of automated WC doors to facilitate access, especially by Passengers with Motor Disabilities, as some airports have heavy WC doors that require physical strength to handle.

Airlines

  1. To provide a special page for People of Determination at the airline online booking site with the aim to facilitate the booking process, provided commitment is made to on-board services requested during the booking process.
  2. To train air carrier crews on how to deal with Passengers of Determination and grant them their due rights as stipulated by the regulations of international travel and transport organisations.
  3. To provide a sufficient number of wheelchairs on-board aircrafts for loading and offloading Passengers of Determination as air carriers usually provide one wheelchair only, while there may be more than one Passenger with Motor Disability on the same flight.
  4. To provide dedicated aircraft lavatories that are suitable to Passengers with Motor Disabilities in terms of space and the ability to move and rotate.
  5. To provide sign-language as part of the delivery of safety instructions during flights.
  6. To provide aircrafts with landlines and white sticks dedicated to Passengers with Visual Impairments, in addition to providing the Braille language as part of movie display screens on-board aircrafts.
  7. To provide programmes and soap operas with sign-language translation to enable Passengers with Hearing Impairments enjoy during their flights.
  8. To provide iPads set-up to serve Passengers with Hearing Impairments to facilitate their service by flight stewards
  9. To provide dedicated aircraft seats with retractable armrests to Passengers of Determination to move freely.

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