Improvements to air travel for PRMs under discussion by UK government

UK ministers have outlined a plan to enhance air travel for disabled passengers, which could include a limit on the wait time for assisted boarding and disembarking, as well as quicker reunions with wheelchairs.

The government announced plans to target the issues faced by disabled flyers on April 4. Aviation minister, Baroness Sugg, said: "We have to do everything possible to ensure passengers are put at the very heart of our aviation industry and the flying experience is a positive one for everyone boarding a plane."

Ministers are reportedly talking to the aviation industry about developing priority storage for wheelchairs, so that they can be returned to their owners quickly upon arrival, as well as considering the removal of seats to allow wheelchairs to be used in cabins. The would enable those who cannot transfer or who require specialist seating to travel - and would also create space for disabled toilets.

The issues for disabled passenger travel were highlighted in March, when the BBC's Frank Gardner was kept waiting on a plane for almost two hours after landing at Heathrow because his wheelchair had been lost. Gardner described the government's ideas as a "welcome step" but added, "we're unlikely to see actual changes in near future".

Keith Richards, who advises the government on transport for disabled people, welcomed the move to give wheelchairs priority, asserting they are "too often treated in the same way as baggage".

The government is due to publish its aviation strategy in early 2019.

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