Aircraft Cabin Management

Virgin Atlantic partnership with Guide Dogs aiming to make flying more accessible

Virgin Atlantic has struck a new long-term partnership with UK charity Guide Dogs to better support individuals with sight loss during their air travel.

With new research revealing that people with sight loss are hesitant to travel due to past difficulties, the airline has decided to add training for all cabin crew on how to assist travellers with sight loss.

“At Virgin Atlantic, we believe that everyone can take on the world and that means ensuring every one of our customers has the best possible experience when they fly with us,” said Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Customer and Operations Officer Corneel Koster. “Our partnership with Guide Dogs is one part of this journey and aims to broaden our understanding of those travelling with sight loss, ensuring that we make flying more accessible for everyone. We recognize there’s work to do but are looking forward to making a real impact together as our partnership evolves.”

The training aims to teach crew members best practices when helping those with visual impairments, covering a range of topics such as approaching someone with sight loss, navigating narrow spaces, stairs, and doorways, and the best position on the aircraft for guide dogs to rest on long journeys.

The partnership launches as recent research, surveying 250 Brits with sight loss, reveals that three-fifths would like to travel abroad more, but almost seven in ten are reluctant to travel by plane because of previous negative experiences. Over half have felt uncomfortable travelling by plane at some point in the past. In response, 65 percent of those surveyed said that they would like to see airlines undertake training to better support passengers with visual impairments, with more than 80 percent saying they would feel more comfortable with air travel if cabin crew were better educated.

John Welsman, Customer Experience Lead of Guide Dogs, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Virgin Atlantic and hope our long-term partnership will put in place improvements that will tangibly impact the lives of those with sight loss for the better. By providing advice to cabin crew and having them undertake sighted guide training, we hope blind and partially-sighted passengers will have the confidence to travel as fully and independently as possible.”

All guide and assistance dogs have a legal right to fly, but Virgin Atlantic recommends passengers contact its special assistance department prior to flying in order to ensure full support is arranged and any inquiries are addressed.

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