Leeds and Bradford airport are working really hard to make the airport and the transition through the airport completely accessible. One of the things that they are doing is offering tours through the airport during the quieter season to allow parents and their families an opportunity to scope out the airport. Little Hiccups decided to arrange for a few families who are travelling this year to go on one of these tours.
We met at The Special Assistance area which is in Hall A of the Airport. If going on holiday with an additional needs child (or in fact - with anyone that might have any kind of additional needs!) this is the area that you will need to contact beforehand and the place you will need to start your holiday. The designated special assistance company, OCS, are the team responsible for assistance at the airport and will do their utmost to make your time in the airport as stress free as possible. In cases of Autism for example, where standing and waiting in a line might be stressful, you can use the 'fast track' lane at security.
In our case, after a brief introduction we went to have our photo identification checked and to receive our pass that allowed us to travel through the airport security. Once this was done the tour started.
We discovered a variety of useful information. Security is the hardest part as that is a necessary part of travelling about an airplane and is unfortunately unavoidable. We had to still follow procedures such as the removal of shoes and passing everything through X-ray but again there is a document you can download on the website that will explain the process. It's designed by and aimed towards aiding Autism but there is no reason why you cannot use this with any child. Any pushchairs or wheelchairs at this will point will also have to be scanned.
Once you are through this area however, it's smooth sailing the rest of the way. On the other side of Security you reach Duty Free. We were also shown the disabled toilet in the departure lounge and a Changing Place which featured a height adjustable bed and a hoist (although you will need your own slings) and also a Special Assistance area where you can wait for the plane. It's this area where you can embark on the Ambulift which arrives to to pick up passengers with reduced mobility to help get them into the plane. This was definitely the highlight of the tour as we were treated to an example of how it works and had a trip out to a stationary airplane where the Ambulift raised our seating area up to the door of the plane. It's ideal as it means that anyone with reduced mobility can access the plane without having to use any steps.
Little Hiccups found this tour very helpful and will hopefully be organising this on a regular basis once or twice a year. If you are interested in attending such a tour, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any information on the accessibility and how to access Special Assistance you can check out their website at: http://www.leedsbradfordairport.co.uk/at-the-airport/special-assistance.
"This will be a great benefit when we fly on the 6th of this month as he is fully aware of what will be happening and that everything is perfectly safe and quiet."