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Air travel: The experiences of wheelchair users and those who help them and implications for service improvements

Davies, Andrew Philip; (2020) Air travel: The experiences of wheelchair users and those who help them and implications for service improvements. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Air passenger numbers have increased steadily over the last decade and the number of wheelchair users who travel by air has grown at a faster rate. Disability is a protected characteristic under the UK Equality Act 2010. In this research, a wheelchair user was defined as someone who used a wheelchair permanently. Limited research has shown that travelling by air has been a mostly negative experience for wheelchair users and those who accompanied them, and a mixed experience for aviation staff. Most of the issues were associated with the aircraft such as the seating and accessing the toilet. This study aimed to collect the experiences and views of wheelchair users and those who accompany them, the cabin crew, and the special assistance staff who helped them at the airport. Participants were recruited through opportunistic and convenience sampling via social media and contacts with a travel adviser for disabled people. A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews was conducted with 11 wheelchair users, 10 people who accompanied them, 11 cabin crew, and 21 special assistance staff. Template analysis and frequency counting were used to code the participant’s views. New issues were identified that included how the luggage was moved; air travel processes including parking, check-in, security, airport amenities, and how the special assistance staff move around the airport; information and communication issues; disembarkation; services on board the aircraft; staff training; and how the staff help wheelchair users. The results revealed that air travel for wheelchair users and those that accompany them was difficult and could be enhanced by improving information accuracy, optimising air travel processes including queueing and resource management, and redesigning physical aspects of the aircraft so they are fit for purpose. This research identified policies and procedures that the aviation industry could adopt when helping wheelchair users who fly.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Air travel: The experiences of wheelchair users and those who help them and implications for service improvements
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: air travel, disability, wheelchair, cabin crew, airport staff, transport, qualitative
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10109531
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