Passengers planning to fly from East Midlands Airport (EMA) now have the chance to check out its facilities before they arrive for their journey thanks to a new 360 virtual tour.
The virtual experience is particularly helpful for people who need the reassurance of familiarisation prior to travel, especially those who might be anxious about visiting somewhere new and for people with sensory issues, hidden or physical disabilities.
The new virtual tour comes as the airport received a ‘Very Good’ rating from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for its accessibility services. It is the first time EMA has received the highest rating in the five years the annual survey has been carried out.
Airports rated ‘Very Good’ are those that provide a consistent and high-quality assistance service. The CAA’s report covers the period 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020 during which EMA provided assistance to more than 60,000 passengers, many of whom were invited to take part in a CAA survey questioning them about their experience. 80% of service users who responded rated the service as good or excellent.
EMA has come a long way in the five years since the CAA launched its annual survey into the quality of accessibility provision at UK airports. Following a ‘poor’ rating in 2016, EMA has invested considerably in its PRM services by focusing particularly on staff training and improving the physical infrastructure.
In addition to providing appropriate facilities for passengers with physical or hidden disabilities, EMA also offers ‘try before you fly’ days which are very popular with those who are anxious about the thought of visiting an airport. These are particularly beneficial for passengers with dementia or autism and their families as it often helps put their mind at rest in advance of the day of travel.
Now passengers can experience the airport prior to travel via its online virtual tour which can be found on the EMA website. Created by Quidity, a new start-up company which specialises in creating virtual immersive environments, the tour was developed in partnership with the airport’s passenger services team who helped facilitate the filming and shape the content.
The project has won praise from Stella Waterhouse, author, broadcaster and internationally renowned expert in sensory issues. She says: “This is absolutely brilliant. The innovative immersive aspect brings a whole new dimension to those with sensory issues, navigating and easing a passage through what can appear to many to be a potentially difficult environment.”
Geoff Moss, East Midlands Airport’s Terminal Operations Director, said: “This recognition by the CAA of the quality of our accessibility provision here at EMA is testament to the teams who deliver the service every day to passengers. It is particularly encouraging to see a continued improvement in our rating, which is the result of a concerted effort from all members of the team and some innovative thinking. For example, our new virtual online tour will provide reassurance and comfort to many people who are not familiar with the facilities and layout of this airport. We take very seriously the needs of all passengers and are committed to providing the best possible experience especially as we look forward to welcoming passengers back following a challenging year.”
Ketan Keshwala & Chris Richards, CEO & Co-Founders of Quidity said: “As a new local start-up during a national shutdown I can say this has been a little different for everyone, but throughout it has been great working with the professional and forward thinking team at East Midlands Airport on this ground-breaking project. We are all extremely pleased with the outcome and know this work will help many passengers familiarise themselves with the excellent facilities and safety measures at EMA from the comfort of their home before even setting foot in the airport. We look forward to expanding our offer and continuing to work with EMA to refine and fine-tune the virtual tour.”