Airport Accessibility is important for travellers with reduced mobility or certain medical conditions. But which UK airports offer the best support for these travellers?
For those who require special assistance while at the airport, it is important to be able to plan and access information in advance of a trip. This study analysed 27 UK airports and their websites to see which are most suited to those with disabilities and medical conditions, and which airports, as a result, are best for accessibility, according to the study.
Holidays can be overwhelming for everyone; the excitement and stress, new adventure and nerves, all bundled into one. This can be felt more intensely if you – or someone you are travelling with – needs extra airport support or has reduced mobility.
In some cases this may be a physical disability or medical condition that needs support for the duration of time at the airport, for others it may be a hidden disability, or a child with autism.
This study ranked the UK’s 27 biggest airports across each important accessibility-related category including:
• displaying walking distances
• mentions of disability and hidden disability on their website
• ease of navigation prior to flying
In total, the study analysed each airport against six categories of ranking factors, which were:
1. No. of mentions of disability on the website
2. Dedicated assistance section and information
3. Displayed walking times in terminals and drop offs
4. Airport maps and visualisation for passengers
5. Hidden disability support and schemes
6. Unique approach to assisted travel and extra facilities or initiatives
All of these categories and factors are essential to making an airport visit as seamless and comfortable as possible for all passengers. For passengers with reduced mobility, they are extra important, as pre-planning and visualising a trip, gives travellers peace of mind that the best support in place.
Where some airports just mention time to gates, it is important to a traveller in a wheelchair, for example, to know the distance from the drop off point to the terminal too.
Similarly, nervous flyers, those with mental health conditions, and those travelling with autism, prefer to visualise the airport, its facilities, and their journey through it via video or immersive 360 maps, more than a sketched diagram.
Airports with more information and resources, and a more comprehensive approach and facilities towards assisted travel scored better.
It’s great to see UK airports support guide and assistance dogs, have ambulift facilities, and a special contact desk for travellers with medical conditions needing special assistance. But when we drilled down further into details such as quiet rooms, displayed walking distances from car park to gate, or website information for pre-planning, the following three airports ranked highest and really came out on top, and all in joint first.
For a small, international airport in Norfolk, Norwich fared particularly well for its approach and resources for assisted travel, putting it in joint first place alongside two major, well-known airports. According to the latest data from UK 2021 CAA statistics , Norwich was the 27th busiest airport, so for a “quieter” terminal, it might just make it the perfect place for people with reduced mobility or hidden disabilities to travel from.
It scored particularly highly for its approach to hidden disabilities, for offering familiarisation visits for families before flying, as well being the only airport website to have a dedicated ostomy page to support people travelling with them. The airport consulted with Stomawise UK and several changes have been made to the disabled toilets making them more ostomy-friendly by providing facilities such as shelving, clothes hangers and duck boards with the aim of making changing more hygienic with less inconvenience. It also has free ostomy emergency supplies for travellers too.
As London’s highest scoring airport, Gatwick is the best choice for travellers needing special assistance flying from the capital. Gatwick says it “aims to be the UK’s most accessible airport, giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly”, and it does exactly that coming in joint first place in the study.
It was the first airport to open a sensory room, which is also pre-bookable. Not all the airports that had these rooms enabled passengers to pre-book which runs the risk of disrupted plans and disappointments. Gatwick is one of the few airports too to offer free drop-off for passengers with blue badges, and amazingly this is also pre-bookable for people to plan in advance and make exemptions for the vehicle/group.
The special assistance homepage also features a video tour of the airport and explanation of its services and facilities too.
As one of three Scottish airports to make it into the top 10 – alongside Aberdeen and Edinburgh – Glasgow International is particularly high scoring for its accessibility friendliness.
With extremely comprehensive and visual planning guides that can be downloaded, it aims to make the travel experience as seamless as possible for passengers with extra needs.
Glasgow International really exceeded other airports in its commitment to improve these services too. Where many airports showed bi-annual minutes of committee meetings, Glasgow International has several updates a month of its meetings with charities and passengers to continually improve its offerings and experience for people with reduced mobility.
The desk research was carried out by Roast for AllClear in August 2022, and included 27 of the busiest airports  across the UK. Each airport was scored out of 3 against 6 ranking factors including: dedicated special assistance web pages, displayed walking and time distances at the airport, mentions of disability on their site, hidden disability approach, airport map quality, and any extra or unique approaches to assisted travel.
From these scores (out of a total 24), they gave each airport a percentage rating to reveal the top 10 best airports for accessibility and assisted travel.
Chris Rolland, CEO at AllClear, comments on the study: “
“It is pleasing to see UK airports making adaptations for special needs and assistance, but it’s important that they continue to improve their information resources, services and facilities to make travel inclusive and accessible for all.
Planning a trip involves so many elements for travellers – getting to the airport, arranging travel insurance, finding a comfortable hotel, and booking holiday activities. Logistics for these elements are heightened for those with a disability – both visible or hidden – and the best way to ease any concerns is to be able to plan in advance. This relies on the airports helping make the planning aspect as seamless as possible.”
Hopefully this guide to UK airport accessibility has helped in your planning arrangements for an upcoming trip. Preparation is the best way to ensure a smooth trip abroad; everything from knowing the airport experience will be comfortable, you are covered for all eventualities, and you have peace of mind for your upcoming trip. Visit our blog for more tailored tips and advice for all holiday styles and travel needs, as well as our information on Travel Insurance for medical conditions.
 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_in_the_United_Kingdom
Written by: Russell Wallace | Travel Insurance ExpertLast Updated: 4 November 2022
 Based on Trustpilot reviews of all companies in the Travel Insurance Company category that have over 30,000 reviews as of January 2023.
Modern Slavery Statement
MaPS Travel Insurance Directory
Earn rewards by sharing with friends