A report into the experiences of wheelchair users and those who help them has important implications for service improvements, according to the influential author, Professor Andrew Philip Davies.

Davies’ research into PRM passenger experiences of air travel showed that, prior to the Covid pandemic, the number of wheelchair users and people with disabilities who choose to fly has grown at a faster rate than the total number of passengers.

Davies interviewed passengers and support staff, as well as looking at findings from other studies in the US and elsewhere. Whilst acknowledging the difficulties involved in dealing with different levels of disabilities, the report concludes that there is a lot of room for improvement.

People who travel with wheelchair users should also be respected, says the Davies report, as they make an important difference to the wheelchair user’s quality of life.

Klaus Pirpamer, managing director of PaxLift, comments: “With the numbers of disabled passengers growing, and support crews reduced following the pandemic, methods need to be optimised to cope with the rising demand. Addressing issues to improve the experience of the air travel process would of course benefit passengers, but cabin crew and the special assistance staff too.”

The principle behind the PaxLift solution was to avoid the inherent problems associated with adapted PRM vehicles, such as chain maintenance, slow loading times and uncomfortable, often manually intensive, experiences for passengers.

Adds Klaus: “Boarding the aircraft after the other passengers was found to be difficult and often uncomfortable for PRM travellers. This is one of the points that PaxLift is the winner! A faster process assures that these situations happen less often. PRM customers should always be boarded before others.”

Since first being introduced in 2016, PaxLift has been refined and updated as awareness of passenger requirements has increased. It’s now in operation in airports in the UK, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong.

A full copy of the report is available here: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10109531/