Gatwick Airport has launched a new service that allows blind and visually impaired passengers to call agents for help to guide them through the airport.
Available free of charge and 24 hours a day, the on-demand service can be accessed through the Aira app on a smartphone.
Passengers with special needs can call the professionally trained agents who will help them to read documents or even find their bag on the luggage carousel.
The service is being offered on a trial basis for a period of six months in collaboration with budget carrier easyJet.
easyJet special assistance advisory group chair Lord David Blunkett said: “This is a great experiment and innovation which I know over time will be life-changing in terms of providing equality to passengers with no or little sight.
“This extremely ground-breaking technological breakthrough will allow the partnership between easyJet and Gatwick to demonstrate, for future use across airports here and across the world, just how a simple app and addition to an iPhone or other similar technology can make such a difference.”
In order to use the service, passengers will have to download and install the Aira app.
The app also offers the latest information on a passenger’s individual journey plans, including flight information and onward connections, among other services.
Gatwick Airport said that 12,000 passengers per annum inform the airport that they are blind or partially sighted. The new solution will make journey hassle-free for these passengers.
Gatwick Airport chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said: “Airports are complex environments and this new system helps to give blind and visually impaired passengers more independence so they can more easily relax and enjoy their time at Gatwick.”
Gatwick has already been working with the RNIB to ensure that the airport has appropriate processes and services to help blind and visually impaired passengers.