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40 local families get a taste of airport life at Gatwicks biggest ever Accessibility Day

Travelling through an airport can be challenging if you have a disability and 40 families and carers attended Gatwick’s biggest ever Accessibility Day this weekend (17 November) to get a taste of airport processes before they fly.

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Thanks to easyJet, an aircraft was made available for the first time during an Accessibility Day so that families, their children and carers could experience boarding and sitting in the interior of an aeroplane.

Virgin Atlantic also provided their private V-Lounge for the families to relax and enjoy refreshments. While ‘airside’ the tours also visited Gatwick’s new sensory room which offers a relaxing, private and fully interactive environment to calm passengers who may feel overwhelmed in busy and unfamiliar airport surroundings.

Representatives from across the airport helped to run the event in the airport’s North terminal including staff from airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and TUI, Gatwick’s security, terminal and special assistance teams, the police, the fire service, surface transport team and Border Force officials.

Families taking part could also replicate ‘checking in’, ride on assistance buggies, meet trained security dogs and the police, and watch the x-ray machines in action.

The Accessibility Day comes in the week that the 2000th member of staff working on the airport campus became a Dementia Friend – the Alzheimer’s Society’s initiative to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Anyone who requires assistance when travelling through Gatwick is encouraged to contact the airport’s special assistance team or their airline.

Sara Marchant, from Gatwick Airport coordinated the event and said:

“The feedback we get from families is fantastic and shows that the Accessibility Day really helps make their journey more enjoyable and relaxing when they come to travel through the airport for real.

“So many people from organisations across the airport come together to make this event happen and I would like to thank everyone for helping to make it such a success. I was also delighted to welcome visitors from other UK airports to the event as it is important we all learn from each other to help make our passengers’ journeys are as enjoyable as possible.”

Celine McGuigan, Accessibility and Assistance Manager, easyJet, said:

“At easyJet we want to provide an enjoyable and seamless travel experience for all our customers, including those with accessibility needs. This is why we set up ESAAG, our Special Assistance Advisory Group, in 2012, so it could provide guidance and advice to us on the services provided to passengers who require assistance.

The group is chaired by Lord David Blunkett and is made up of experts in disability issues and accessible travel. We are pleased to be part of the Accessibility Day to give people the opportunity to find out more about what support they can get from Gatwick Airport and easyJet when travelling.”

Gatwick

Criminals beware, Project Servator has launched at Gatwick and it WILL spot you!

Unpredictable, that’s the key word for the project launched at Gatwick Airport for the first time, ensuring that security checks are performed without any notice.

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In this day and age we all feel a sense of safety whenever we see a police patrol going about their business.  None more so than at an airport.

“deter, detect and disrupt hostile reconnaissance”

Now Gatwick has gone one step further and adopted the national project Servator that has performed so well up and down the country.

Inspector James Biggs from the Gatwick Police Prevention Team explained:

“Project Servator is a project initiated by the city of London police that has now gone nationwide including railway stations and airports.

It’s designed to deter, detect and disrupt the hostile reconnaissance coming to the airport and places of interest.  That’s all levels of criminality from shoplifters to terrorists.

The project has been live nationwide for a number of a years which is why we adopted it here.”

But what is it?

The aim is be as unpredictable as possible and run security checks utilising all arms of the available resources available to the police, from uniformed to plain clothed and armed officers.  Additionally the use of dogs and the sophisticated CCTV and number plate recognition software all combine to create the airports very own ring of steel.

The officers have been specially trained to detect people who may come to the airport and act in a different manner.  Something not easy in an environment as busy as Gatwick where the people change every single hour and day.

But it is not just within the airport buildings that the project is undertaken.

Road checkpoints have also been set up ensuring that if anyone even thinks about getting close to the airport for wrong reasons then they will have no choice but to come face to face with the police.

Whilst the whole project is all about being unpredictable and therefore catching out would-be criminals, there is an additional side that could be witnessed first hand while watching the officers in action.

Smiles on the faces of passengers.

The very presence, the interaction and the belief that Gatwick is showing that safety is of paramount importance to all who both work and travel through the airport.

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