12:00-16:30, Heathrow Terminal 3 Aerodrome Room
Roberto Castiglioni (RC) – Chair
Christiane Link (CL)
Geraldine Lundy (GL)
Athena Stevens (AS)
Antony Marke (AM) – Omniserv
Paul Stonehouse (PS) – HAL
Nicole Miersch – HAL
Simon Fraser (SF) – HAL
Michael Carver (MC) – British Airways
Edwina Silo (ES) – AOC
Graham Race (GR) – QEF
Isabel Saraiva (IS) and Pippa Powell (PP) – European Lung Foundation
Paul Fenton (PF) and Peter Buchanan (PB) – WeKnow Group
Sagar Merchant (SM) – HAL Commercial
Tonia Fielding (TF) – HAL
Joe Beattie (JB) – HAL
Azad Batth (AB) – HAL
The chair welcomed all attendees and the previous meeting’s minutes were reviewed without objections. RC advised that Martyn and Panita sent their apologies, and will attend the next HAAG meeting on the 24th of January.
SF, ES and TF will join the meeting later.
PS advised that he is now the Customer Relations Manager for T3 and he introduced Joe Beattie as the new Senior Manager for Special Assistance who will be starting on the 2nd of January 2018.
RC informed the group the HAAG will have its own website from January 2018. The web address is www.haag.org.uk and will be linked from the Heathrow website (special assistance page).
Guest presentation from WeKnow Group
SM introduced the WeKnow Group who present options for passengers beyond services currently available. The aim is to introduce a Premium end-to-end airport journey, to and from Heathrow.
PF and PB from WeKnow group want to explore how the HAAG can help them shape the passenger experience and provide a WOW departures and arrivals experience for everyone.
WeKnow explained that the departure experience is a product and the arrivals experience is a service as passengers don’t want to dwell when leaving the airport.
WeKnow what to discover more about all passenger segments and explore the end-to-end process from disembarkation until home and how we can they offer the right products and services.
WeKnow want to work collaboratively with OmniServ to offer a high end, seamless passenger journey and it is their aspiration to provide a seamless journey.
AM advised that OmniServ are developing a passenger app, which could tie in with any additional offerings. OmniServ are currently trialling the app and AM will present the development at the next meeting.
GL advised that accessible vehicles is the biggest gap. MC seconded that airlines offer chauffeur drive, but PRM passengers aren’t always considered, the service needs to be designed for inclusion. PB advised that WeKnow understands that the vehicles and personal requirements are key and the drivers need to communicate with OmniServ upon arrival at the airport. GR advised that we need to be realistic about vehicle expectations and details as well as availability as it might be logistically difficult to always have all vehicles available.
PB advised their intention to purchase accessible vehicles in the future, however at moment passengers have to give 24hr notice.
CL asked whether WeKnow have any experience in working with disabled customers and was advised that the proposal is the start of journey and all products and services can be tailored to individual passenger needs. For example, WeKnow have the technology available to support deaf passengers, which is currently used to overcome language barrier with foreign passengers, screens are used in their vehicles and they are looking at new products for in-ear translators and on-screen sign languages on screens. Working with their customers will help WeKnow to develop the right products and services.
RC recommended to establish a direct line of communication with OmniServ to support their product and service development. SM agreed and summarised that they would like to gauge the customer appetite for an end-to-end service and establish what the service would look like.
He also mentioned that they would require support especially from the airline community to communicate and promote the service to the end user.
PP from the European Lung Foundation (ELF) advised that they could get valuable insights from patient organisation groups who advise their customers, patients and doctors, how best to prepare for travel. PP also offered help for drivers and other staff to overcome challenges and learn from the process. Following the meeting WeKnow Group/SM will pick up with ELF and AM.
Guest presentation from European Lung Foundation
IS introduced herself and the company which is European based but works internationally.
RC asked why there is a common delay to get the medic form signed off. GL and MC advised that their Special Assistance departments don’t open on Sundays, but normally turn around medic forms quickly, however personal consultants aren’t always as fast. IS clarified that ELF is seeking Heathrow’s support for passengers with breathing issues travelling, all the way from check-in and through security processes. ELF passengers don’t normally require Special Assistance, however the level of assistance that might be required could be provided when communicating. IS raised an issue with the lack of chairs within the airport. AB advised that Heathrow complies with building standard 300, which is the seating standard and denotes that seating is required every 50m. However, the information is currently not on the website. IS advised that it would be useful to have a map of terminals that shows seating and nearby charging points. This is important information and the action has been assigned to SF for review. The display of walking distances is vital and will help passengers plan their journeys. IS confirmed that the ageing population want to fly more but information is hard to find online.
Maps need to be at a central point of the Special Assistance website, AB mentioned that the Heathrow Digital Content Manager has commissioned Ability Net to review our website, which will include panel testing. CL confirmed that this is important and needed, she will link in with the team to support. RC highlighted that the HAAG should liaise with the CAA to urge the regulator to provide clear concise information for passengers travelling with oxygen, including a 3-year statement of pricing and maximum turnaround times.
The chair of the HAAG introduced the new HAAG members Graham Race and Michael Carver.
Action update on the review of training protocols
CL met with the security training team to review their training material, the overall content was good, however a cultural change is required. CL also highlighted that she has not yet received any training material from OmniServ, AM will follow this up and forward on to CL and PV as soon as possible. Am also advised that the OmniServ training has been accredited independently and he will also share with CL and PV.
CL continued that an overall training package is required which can be tailored for all different functions. Above all the social model of disability needs to be included in all training. AB advised that the problem is the time available for security training, in 2018 the schedule only allows for limited time for disability training; therefore, the team will have to review different options. TF advised that HAL training and development team launch Service Signatures in 2018 which will be built into recruitment and training going forward.
CL advised that agreement and commitment from HAL is required to work to the social model, inclusion of all customers will drive cultural change. AB advised the Security team will review how the training and development team can support as the training needs to be rolled out for all new starters also.
GL advised that following the European legislation change in 2006, Virgin focused on individual customers rather than the legislation which was a simple fix to listen to customers. Change was initiated from the top down and accessibility ambassadors were recruited to be specialists to help convey the message to the wider field.
MC recommended that HAL be assertive on airlines and service providers to ensure they have the training content as set part of their schedule. JB added that the message needs to be simple and based on customer requirements, all training and awareness will naturally follow. AS added that inclusion must be embedded at every level which will enable a cultural shift and it is naive to not acknowledge that Heathrow creates disability. JB confirmed that he will link up with CL in the new year and pick up the action to review all training and facilitate alignment. TF added that service signatures will internally launch next year and she will invite the team to the next HAAG meeting.
RC confirmed that the CAA will attend the next HAAG meeting and the group will take the questions to them for clarification.
AB added that the last submission for any changes to the security training is mid-January 2018, however all identified changes in language and visuals will be altered. MC highlighted that the disability training section should be moved to the beginning of the training days.
Action update on PRM Tarmac Transfer (OmniConnect)
AM advised that to avoid confusion the PRM Tarmac Transfer has been renamed to the OmniConnect, which is an additional service to speed up the connecting process for PRM passengers between terminals.
The OmniConnect was suggested in the new contract and OmniServ are looking to trial the OmniConnect between T5C and T3 from the 1st of January. TF advised that additional inject buses may be required, but this may affect schedules for other terminals, the OmniServ Inter Terminal Operations Team are meeting on the 14th of December and TF will update accordingly.
CL mentioned that this is a service improvement in response to the CAA report and the OmniConnect is required at Heathrow as PRMs take too long to connect between planes and the service is a reasonable adjustment for passengers with additional requirements. MC added that aircraft side screening would be providing the best possible service as this would facilitate tail-to-tail transfers. PS highlighted that there may be concerns regarding Border Force regulations and standard operating procedures need to be established, TF will advise on best contacts and AM will action this.
The HAAG voted and unanimously recommends for OmniServ to continue with the OmniConnect. Upon arrival ES confirmed that this is a great service improvement and she is happy for the trial to proceed, but summarised that OmniServ need to align with Border Force, identify a Single Operating Procedure and advise the airlines at the local Terminal Community Meetings.
Action update on wheelchair damages
AS advised that there is currently no adequate procedure for damaged mobility devices in place. AS only received 2 responses from VA and BA, information is not collated or reported consistently and airport wide. It might be an opportunity to have a standard procedure online.
AS also found that Electronic Mobility Aids (EMA) are still classed as baggage because they go in the hold of an aircraft, it is her recommendation to start a cultural change by not classing EMAs as baggage.
Furthermore, airport staff, including Duty Managers often don’t notice wheelchair. GL explained that VA staff normally gets alerted by customers as crew don’t always notice any damage just by looking at wheelchairs. MC added that even if BA staff see damages, the airlines can’t proactively address resolution of the problem, they leave customers to address the issue.
AS seconded that a single point of contact is required to unify standard procedures and reports, the current standard of complaint resolution not good enough. RC added that passengers often don’t know what to do, therefore a single procedure would be the best way forward.
CL recommended that it would be best to work with a service provider to come and fix damaged wheelchairs. GL confirmed that during the 2012 Olympics we had workshop on site. MC advised that BA is looking into loan options to help passengers, however CL added that loans aren’t always suitable. AM explained that they would outsource any maintenance contracts and AB added that engineering apprentices may be able to support any requirements. GR explained that QEF is part of the BHTA who set up working groups for wheelchair manufacturers and ground handlers to better understand procedures and RC confirmed that this topic needs to be actioned by GL, MC and GR together with AS. The team will review interim solutions, review all data and actions.
Presentation on assistive technology
GL said she believes this is a great idea for accessible rooms and changing places and the device will broaden their usability. Currently visually impaired customers have to feel around rooms or take someone with them into the toilet, however the RoomMate device will talk to customers and explain the layout. The device can be reconfigured if the toilet layout changes. The group confirmed that this is a nice assistive technology and GL will go back to Roommate and get more information, including costs. RC assigned an exploratory action to TF who will report back at the next HAAG.
Review of PRM passenger complaint
Record sealed in compliance with Data Protection Rules
Group discussion on HAAG’s roadmap for 2018
RC presented the HAAG roadmap for 2018 and advised the group to review over Christmas so it can be finalised in the new year.
A discussion was had about growth rates of PRM passengers which is being reviewed through PRM governance. The ES stated that the AOC have asked the airlines to review their growth rates and work with Heathrow to identify other services that might better serve passenger needs, PS agreed that this may produce a suite of products and services that give passengers more choice. TF highlighted that PRM numbers will continue to grow in light of generational changes and better service provision, and if we enable more passengers to travel this is a growth opportunity for all airlines. GL agreed. The PRM governance group will carry out the review and produce recommendations.
AM advised that Panasonic liaised with OmniServ to review automated self-mobilisation wheelchairs. OmniServ are keen to set up a trial and AM advised that Panasonic also offer an automatic translator which can be accessed from smartphones and is used to translate signage.
RC thanked all participants and adjourned the meeting.
The next HAAG meeting will be on the 24th of January 2018 – location to be confirmed.