How Virgin Atlantic looks after disabled customers

A male and female cabin crew member standing in front of a Virgin Atlantic plane called Daydream Believer
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 April 2016

Virgin Atlantic is dedicated to giving every single customer a brilliant experience on board their flights. But the team knows that flying isn’t easy for everyone so they’ve been working on ways to help passengers prepare for their flights.

“A few years ago we realised that we have fantastic rig facilities at The Base that were standing idle when training wasn’t taking place,” Geraldine Lundy, passenger accessibility manager at Virgin Atlantic, says. “Equally we knew we had families or individual customers with disabilities who didn’t fly because they weren’t sure they could cope. We started offering rig visits so that customers with disabilities could see if they could fly.”

At first, she says, it was mainly wheelchair users who visited to test how accessible the planes are for them – the rig at The Base includes a section of a real life Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class cabin so helps customers with physical disabilities to see how they would navigate the aircraft. “Now we are seeing more and more customers with hidden disabilities such as autism or anxiety,” Lundy says.

Virgin Atlantic cabin interior
Image from Virgin Atlantic

“The final touch we add is that if anyone has come for a visit we send out a summary email to everyone involved in their journey explaining what the customer needs,” she adds. “We give the customer a copy of this which really gives them the confidence that they are going to be looked after. Our staff love it too as they know that someone who really needs some extra special care and attention is travelling.”

Jo-Ann D'Costa-Manuel, director at Autism Parent Empower, visited The Base to check out Virgin Atlantic’s facilities and find out how they could help families with autistic children to take a well-earned break. Take a look at her video on Facebook.

To find out more about how Virgin Atlantic can assist disabled customers and book a visit to The Base for yourself, visit the Special Assistance section of the Virgin Atlantic website.