Coping with the hassle of airports is always stressful, but spare a thought for the millions of travellers with disabilities and special needs who find the whole experience even more of a headache.
Airports and airlines have become increasingly clued-up with regards to helping once you are in the terminal, but what about parking? Will there be anyone to help, and what needs to be done ahead of arrival to make sure it all works smoothly?
A few points apply to all airports:
– With security high at airports, the normal Blue Badge system does not apply on the roads around them and if you fall foul of the rules you can expect to be towed away and have a hefty fine imposed for recovery of the vehicle.
– If you want to park in a Blue Badge space but also need to take your badge abroad with you, this is normally possible by contacting the operator before you leave the car park so that they can see your badge.
– If you are unable to reach the payment machine, there should be an assistance button to press for help.
– Parking charges normally apply, although, at Gatwick for instance, you will only pay standard rate even although the Blue Badge spaces in the short-term car park are in the Premium area. This is applicable up to 4 hours. Press the assistance button on the ticket machine to speak to an operative and provide your blue badge number. Don’t out your ticket in or you’ll be charged the premium fee.
– Meet and Greet car parking can be the best bet for people with disabilities or special needs. Most airports offer a meet and greet service, either with their official parking services, or one of the onsite providers.
– If you have an unusual special need, have a look on online forums for advice. The chances are that someone else will have had experience and be willing to offer tips and advice.
– It goes without saying that you should always allow plenty of time for your transfer from the car park to the terminal.
With the above in mind, let’s look at some of the UK’s airports and what they offer for blue badge parking.
Blog updated June 2017
Blue Badge spaces are available in the short-term car park close to terminal access routes. Help points are situated near these spaces, and assistance is free. If you require a wheelchair or are in your own, use the green telephone to call for assistance, whether you require help with luggage or having the wheelchair pushed.
If you don’t want to splash out on the short-term car parks, there are also Blue Badge spaces in long-term and business car parks close to the bus stops and admin office respectively. As ever though, it’s worth phoning ahead to make specific arrangements for assistance with the individual operators.
As with Heathrow, there are plenty of Blue Badge spaces in short-term car parks, but perhaps of more interest to those flying off on holiday are the spaces in the long-term car parks, all of which are easily accessible and close to the bus stops. Please note that the normal parking tariffs apply in the long stay and business car parks
If you have parked in the long-term car park but want to pick up a disabled companion from the short-term car park (thus avoiding the hassle of them getting on and off the transfer bus), ask the staff at the long-term car park to arrange this.
Blue Badge spaces and full assistance are available in all three car parks (Short, Mid and Long stay). If parking in the Mid or Long stay areas, you can use the courtesy shuttle service to the terminal building. Simply press the help button on the assistance point and inform the operator that you have a wheelchair; they will dispatch a vehicle as soon as possible. Mobility scooters can also be accommodated on the transfer buses although passengers will be required to switch into a normal seat on the bus. Blue badge parking is also available in the Express Set Down area as well as the free Drop Off / Pick Up location in the Short Stay car park.
There are plenty of Blue Badge spaces at both short-term and long-term car parks with help points located nearby should you require assistance with luggage or having your wheelchair pushed. Birmingham Airport uses OCS Ltd to provide help for people with disabilities or special needs, and they should be contacted with any specific queries before you fly. As a guide, we have detailed below the number of available Blue Badge spaces across their car parks;
Car Park 1: 30
Car Park 2: 9
Car Park 3: 6
Car Park 5: 30
Blue Badge spaces are situated in all car parks at Manchester Airport. Should you require assistance there are help buttons at all barriers and at the pay machines. Should you need to use the courtesy shuttle service from the Long Stay car park, you’ll be given priority space and seating.
All car parks at Luton offer blue badge spaces and are either close to the terminal in the short stay area or close to a pick up station in the long and mid stay car parks. All shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and the drivers are happy to assist! If you park in the Short Stay car park, you’ll need to head to the Priority Parking reception to validate your blu badge
Blue badge spaces are available in the Short Stay and Business Car Park, Short Stay 2 and Mid Stay Car Park, Terminal Front Express Car Park and Long Stay Car Parks 1 & 2. If you are picking up or dropping off, Blue Badge holders can use the Terminal Front Express Car Park for free for up to 30 minutes, or £3 for up to an hour. Simply show a parking assistant your badge and they can arrange your exit.
Blue Badge parking is available as detailed below;
Short Stay Car Park 1: 4 spaces on the ground floor of the multi-storey part. There is no help call point, however there is one located next to the nearby pelican crossing
Short Stay Car Park 2: There are 10 spaces available plus a help point
All other floors in the multi story car park have 12 spaces and have accessible lifts.
Blue Badge holders are eligible for 30 minutes of free parking upon presentation of a valid badge.