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61 5.1 Customer Experience Unless there are curbside check-in counters, travelers being dropped off in front of the terminal at U.S. airports usually have no way to request assistance. And drivers may not leave the car unattended to summon help. This leads to what the Canadian Transportation Agency has termed the âno-manâs landâ between the curb and check-in (Canadian Transportation Agency 1997). How assistance is provided can also be problematic. As observed in a 2009 report funded by the UK CAA, the service offered to travelers with disabilities is often one size fits all and is not tailored to the needs of each traveler with a disability (SHM Group 2009). This is a common complaint among travelers with vision loss in the U.S., who often find themselves greeted by an agent with a wheelchair. This situation may happen because some airlines do not share Special Service Request codes with their contracted service providers. Because airline and airport websites typically mention only âwheelchair assistance,â individu- als with cognitive disabilities may be completely unaware that an escort service is available for them, as well. This finding by the UK CAA led to new guidance on hidden disabilities that has already made significant differences for this part of the population in the UK (Civil Aviation Authority 2016a). The Departures level of an airport terminal is a major stressor for travelers with disabilities. Aside from navigating through the typically crowded and noisy space, the check-in process can be more difficult because of excessive signage in the terminal, often using airline jargon that is difficult for infrequent travelers to understand (Mein et al. 2014). If the desired check-in area is not in view after the passenger enters, the first challenge may be to locate a digital directory or information desk. However, these sources are typically located only on the Arrivals level, where people need assistance to find ground transportation, hotels, and so on. In the U.S., all automated airport kiosks installed on or after December 12, 2016, must meet new accessibility standards (Â§382.57). However, a lack of familiarity with the technology and the airline requirement that travelers who need assistance may not use these kiosks make approaching the ticket counter inevitable. This is where travelers typically encounter their first long line andâwithout adequate seating availableâmay become fatigued even before reaching Security. Following the check-in process, travelers who need wheelchair assistance, an escort due to vision loss or a cognitive disability, or assistance with carry-on items must wait for help to arrive. Once a service provider comes, travelers then face what may be the most stressful part of the airport experience: getting through security screening checkpoints. ACRP Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports lists the challenges most often experienced by older travelers at C H A P T E R 5 From Terminal Curbside Through Security
62 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities these checkpoints, applicable as well to any traveler with functional limitations. These chal- lenges include waiting in line and prolonged standing, removing personal items and items of clothing and depositing them in trays, and lifting baggage on and off the screening conveyer belt (Mein et al. 2014). Another challenge for those who are semiambulatory is walking through passenger screening devices and maintaining a stable stance, especially with arms raised overhead. A âlack of staff knowledge about disabilityââat check-in and security checkpointsâwas the most common problem identified by nearly half of the respondents in the User Needs Survey report, found at www.trb.org by searching for âACRP Research Report 210.â Other complaints regarding check-in included the following: â¢ Staff not knowing how to serve people with disabilities and their service animals, â¢ Refusing to help, â¢ Not listening, and â¢ Asking for unnecessary information. In addition to generally not knowing how to serve people with disabilities, security check- point problems included the following: â¢ Improper manners of TSA agents; â¢ Staff not knowledgeable about modified pat-down procedures; â¢ Staff not helping with luggage on the conveyer belt; and â¢ Unreliable service, such as misinformation, being forgotten, and ignoring individual needs. Travelers with guide dogs often have problems at checkpoints, as well, likely due to a lack of specific training and agent inexperience. People who are blind often worry about their belong- ings being lost or stolen while they are being screened, since service providers cannot keep an eye on the clientâs items the whole time as they, too, must undergo screening. This concern can also be a problem for travelers using wheelchairs, as they require more time-consuming pat downs. 5.2 Assistance Services 5.2.1 Access to Assistance: Curbside Chapter 4 discusses regulatory differences between Europe and the United States with regard to the availability of assistance services and information at airport arrival points. The best practices described in Chapter 4 were for parking lots and garages, rental car centers, light rail, and other remote locations. In this section, the focus is on how traveler needs are accom- modated once they arrive at the terminal curbside. At European airports, people who require disability-related assistance curbside make use of help point kiosks adjacent to accessible loading zones, as at Paris Orly Airport. The four pictograms on the help point that indicate hearing, mobility, vision, and cognitive disabilities are standard throughout the European Union (Figure 5-1). This help point features a camera, speaker, microphone, and button to push for assistance, with screen instructions alternating between French and English. A narrow band of guiding tiles, also known as tactile ground surface indicators, leads from the accessible parking space on the left to the kiosk and to the nearest termi- nal entrance. First developed in Japan, these tactile ground surface indicators are commonly seen in European airports and train stations and initially guide a person who is blind from the kiosk to an information or ticket counter inside the terminal. However, they have not been adopted in the United States, where the only tactile surfaces in U.S. DOT ADA Standards are for station platform edges and curb cuts (e.g., âtruncated domesâ used for warning rather than guiding).
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 63 London Gatwick, which also has help points, provides an even better welcome. Wilson James, the airportâs only service provider, has a curbside office and waiting room next to an accessible loading zone for travelers who need assistance. If an agent is not immediately avail- able, passengers can wait in comfort until one arrives. As there are wide ramps between floors, electric carts can be used to transport groups of travelers and their luggage up to check-in and bag drop. Those already checked in and who have only carry-on luggage are brought directly to Security or to a second Wilson James office located immediately outside the checkpoint. As Figure 5-2 shows, Staxi transport chairs and standard wheelchairs are neatly staged outside the Kiss-and-Fly reception room. Figure 5-1. Accessible curbside loading zone (left) and help point at Paris Orly Airport (right). Figure 5-2. Curbside reception and waiting room at London Gatwick.
64 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities As mentioned in Chapter 4, Air Carrier Access Act Part 382 regulations do not require any means curbside to call for assistance, even though air carriers must provide help from curb to gate and back. However, the U.S. DOT suggests that carriers âconsider the feasibility of installing a well-marked telephone or other means by which airline passengers can contact the appropriate airline in such situationsâ (U.S. Department of Transportation 2009). Since most travelers with disabilities and older adults now have cell phones, airports that post numbers for each carrierâs service company areâin effectâachieving the same result or better, since the call can be placed directly from a vehicle. Included on this growing list are Hartsfieldâ Jackson Atlanta International, BaltimoreâWashington International, and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Detroit also lists specific drop-off locations to receive service. There is no standardized way to request curbside assistance at U.S. airports, and each airport is unique. Therefore, travelers need to do their research in advance or trust to luck at terminals where curbside check-in is not available for their airline. However, more airport authorities are aware of and attempting to bridge this service gap. Following are some additional best practices identified online or by site visits: â¢ San Francisco International Airport: The International Terminal has specially marked phones at each entryway on the Departures level that can be used to request assistance from all carriers, as there is only one contractor for the terminal (Figure 5-3). To reduce wait times, the airport relocated the service provider inside the first and last doors of newly designed facilities that feature a podium, a wheelchair corral, and a bank of seats for those waiting for assistance. Like many international terminals, there is no curbside check-in, making these accommoda- tions all the more important. However, not all carriers have curbside service, even at domestic terminals, and those that do are not available at all hours. â¢ Greater Rochester International Airport: On the Departures level, which has no curbside check-in, the sole service provider is stationed at a centrally located, curbside booth. Agents are approached in person or contacted via call buttons posted on pillars along the roadway (Figure 5-4). The airport uses the dynamic accessibility symbol for wheelchairs, approved by New York and Connecticut state legislatures. However, the symbol is not compliant with Figure 5-3. Curbside assistance phone (left) and service provider facility (right) at the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 65 ADA standards, according to guidance from the U.S. Access Board (2017). The pictogram is meant to be representative of the ISA and is not an indication that the assistance is only for individuals who need wheelchairs. â¢ MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport: At Terminal 1, there are two designated drop- off points for passengers needing assistance: Door 4 (Delta and Air France) and Door 2 (other airlines). These locations are noted on the website and identified by signage. In addition, a large digital sign shows an ISA and the door numbers as a passenger approaches the terminal (Figure 5-5). The two contractors serving the air carriers are positioned just inside the doors. Chicago Midway International Airport offers a similar solution for departing passengers. Typically, vehicles at curbside must be attended. However, drivers at Phoenix Sky Harbor and at Boston Logan who need to accompany a passenger with a disability into the terminal are allowed to park curbside for 15 minutes but only after receiving permission from Security or State Police. Vehicles at Boston Logan are required to have disability parking (or HP) plates. This is also the case at Vancouver International. Figure 5-4. Curbside call buttons at Greater Rochester International Airport. Figure 5-5. Designated drop-off door (left) and roadway sign (right) at MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport.
66 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities ACRP Report 10: Innovations for Airport Terminal Facilities suggests the creation of passenger assistance parking areas like the ones at Munich International Airport, where drivers park free for 10 minutes (Corgan Associates, Inc. 2008). Many U.S. airportsâincluding Augusta Regional, Charlottesville Albermarle, Ithaca Tompkins Regional, and San Francisco Internationalâoffer free parking for up to 30 minutes in short-term lots or garages. 5.2.2 Access to Assistance: Mobile App Solutions Software applications may help to bridge the gap between departing passengers and service providers, allowing travelers to inform the airline or service provider of their arrival curbside or at another location and to see when an agent is likely to arrive, much like a rideshare app. United Airlines is piloting a feature in its mobile app that allows departing travelers to request wheelchair assistance at Los Angeles International and Las Vegas McCarran Inter- national. When a traveler submits the request, United can communicate via direct messaging with the service provider and keep the passenger updated. If the request is not already in the system, the app automatically adds a special service request code to the travelerâs passenger name record so that the assistance need is documented for any future flight segments on the reservation. At Edinburgh Airport in Scotland, travelers who require assistance can use the Welcome app developed by Neatebox, Ltd. When making an assistance request through Welcome, the app sends the travelerâs intended arrival time and location along with information from the travelerâs stored profile, including an optional photo for easier identification and a description of the type of assistance needed. The service provider also receives an overview with tips on how to best assist someone with the travelerâs specific disability type. Because this information is far more detailed and accurate than a general special service request code, appropriate assistance can be provided. Since Neatebox stores the profile, participating businesses do not need to worry about compli- ance with the strict European privacy law, and the passenger saves time and effort. Implementing this technology is fairly simple. Neatebox will geofence the area around the airport so that when the software detects a traveler is within the geofenced space, an automatic notice informs the service provider of the travelerâs arrival (International Airport Review 2018a). Soon to be piloted in the International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, the passenger-facing feature of the Antikythera mobile app (developed by Antikythera Technolo- gies) helps travelers use Indoor Access technology to find the nearest wheelchair attendant, electric cart, or shuttle (much like the Uber app) and assist them with navigating through the airport with a map (Figure 5-6). Indoor Access is discussed further in Chapter 12. Figure 5-6. Antikythera passenger-facing app (Source: Antikythera).
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 67 With respect to management of service provision in airports, companies such as Ozion and AvTech have also developed assistance software. Details on the capabilities of their software systems is also available in Chapter 12. 5.2.3 Other Means of Assistance 18.104.22.168 Gate Passes for Companions Some U.S. carriers provide a gate pass at the request of a passenger with a disability or an older adult who needs or prefers to have a family member or companion provide assis- tance to the gate and remain until the plane departs. This is particularly important for people with cognitive disabilities who require continual supervision while in the terminal, as this level of service is not mandated under the Air Carrier Access Act Part 382. Instead, service providers are required only to check every 30 minutes on those who are not inde- pendently mobile. Gate passes are also provided at Canadian airports but are not usually permitted in Europe. A program at Pittsburgh International offers airside access to anyone with a Real ID driverâs license or passport. After obtaining a âmyPITpassâ from a dedicated counter, the visitor must clear Security the same as airline passengers. But passengers have priority, and during peak hours the program may be suspended. This program is available Monday through Friday. 22.214.171.124 Travelers Aid International Travelers Aid member agencies operate information booths at 17 U.S. airports, with services that vary from airport to airport. At some locations, a Travelers Aid representative is able to stay with a passenger until boarding, thus providing the continual oversight needed by some indi- viduals with cognitive or psychological disabilities. This service should be arranged in advance. Travelers Aid services include â¢ Extra help navigating the airport, â¢ Assistance meeting a traveler on an incoming flight, â¢ Translation assistance, â¢ Locating a lost item, and â¢ Directing passengers to specific airport amenities. Travelers Aid International, the parent organization, has direct operations at airports in Washington, D.C. (Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International); New York and New Jersey (John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International); and Hartford, Connecticut (Bradley International) through partnerships with their airport authorities. In addition to staffing information desks at Washington Dulles International Airport, the organization provides mobile guides who offer roving assistance to passengers in finding their gates and making connections (Figure 5-7). As at airports nationwide, the volunteers at Dulles are mostly retirees and, therefore, are able to relate to older travelers who typically rely more on personal verbal wayfinding assistance rather than virtual information from digital apps and kiosks (Harding et al. 2017). 5.3 Access to Information For travelers with functional limitations entering the terminal on their own, access to infor- mation is key. Travelers want to confirm what they discovered during the pretrip planning stage and gather additional information about next steps in their journey.
68 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities 5.3.1 Information Desks Although providing signage and web-based information is helpful, it is still necessary to have staff available to answer questions and to provide additional assistance, as needed. This is espe- cially important to older travelers. At Washington Dulles, multiple information desks are avail- able on both levels in easy view of entrances. When directional signage is only provided on the Arrivals level, such signage on the Departure level should indicate the nearest booth. Additional information about the design of lobby areas and placement of information booths and digital wayfinding kiosks can be found in ACRP Research Report 177: Enhanced Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities (Harding et al. 2017). Staff or volunteers stationed at information booths should be trained in how to communicate with and assist travelers with all types of disabilities and should also be aware of accessible ser- vices and facilities throughout the airport. As a backup, staff should also have access to an airport database or other means of finding information. At London Heathrow, airport ambassadors carry digital tablets for quick access to information at all times. 5.3.2 Assistive Communication Technologies To facilitate communication with passengers who speak sign language, a growing number of U.S. airportsâincluding CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International, MinneapolisâSaint Paul International, and San Francisco Internationalâoffer video remote interpreting services via tablet at their information desks. To use video remote interpreting, a remote sign language interpreter is called via video chat. The interpreter voices what the person who is deaf or hard of hearing is signing and then signs back the spoken response from the hearing person, enabling communication in real time. Figure 5-7. Travelers Aid mobile podium and roving guide at Washington Dulles International Airport.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 69 The same video remote interpreting system is used for remote audio translation of various languages, helping airports to fulfill Title VI requirements under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the information booths at San Francisco International, a sign lists the many languages that can be interpreted. Text telephones or TTYs, which allow people with hearing loss to type messages back and forth, are required by ADA Accessibility Standards only when public telephones are provided and are being phased out. However, recognizing that some travelers still need these devices and also that the airport has an obligation under U.S. DOT Section 504 to provide communication accommo- dations, San Francisco International has relocated the TTYs to information booths (Figure 5-8), where they are placed next to an airport information phone and a tablet with access to the Inter- net. In the future, TTYs will be moved to digital phone kiosks with public access videophones. Airports that have already installed public access videophones include BaltimoreâWashington International Thurgood Marshall, Buffalo Niagara International in New York, Fort Wayne Inter- national in Indiana, Syracuse Hancock International in New York, and Tulsa International in Oklahoma. Videophones provide video relay service and make point-to-point calls. Only people with hearing loss who must communicate via sign language can use them. As discussed in Chapter 2, the noisy airport environment makes communication difficult for travelers who use hearing aids. Hearing loop systems are available at European airports, but their popularity is only beginning to grow in the United States. Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International was the first to adopt hearing loop technology. Due to the presence of a large deaf and hard-of-hearing population in the area, Greater Rochester International has also adopted the system. SarasotaâBradenton Internationalâserving many retired Floridiansâhas installed hearing loops, as well. Figure 5-9 shows the distinctive hearing loop signage at a check-in counter at Greater Rochester International. A hearing loop trial at Lufthansa Airline and British Airways check-in and gate counters is underway at SeattleâTacoma International Airport. The counter loop systems are portable hear- ing loops that create a magnetic field within a 1.5-meter radius and connect to t-coil hearing aids. Figure 5-8. Tablet, information phone, and TTY at San Francisco International Airport.
70 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Installing typical hearing loop systems requires wiring and amplifies sound around an entire room. However, at ticket counters or information booths, where communication is one on one, the counter loop is sufficient. 5.3.3 Flight Information Displays For travelers who are already checked in, the first thing they need to know is whether their flight is on time and the current gate number. FIDs are important but not as numerous as they might be. Ideally, multiple banks of FIDs should be placed throughout the check-in area and at a height that allows for close approach. Placing the FIDs at eye level and ensuring high contrast between text and background colors will better accommodate travelers with low vision and make it easier for people of short stature and those seated in wheelchairs to see the screens. In addition to the FIDs design, content must be easy to read and comprehend. When text refreshes and repositions frequently, it can be difficult to locate flight-specific information. If this is unavoidable, the repositioned text should follow a brief, consistent pattern, such as moving up one line per refresh. The 2017 International Code Council 117.1 Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities provides the first design guidelines for variable message signs. MinneapolisâSaint Paul International information desks have a FID that allows for the closest possible approach and a screen that solely displays airport-wide visual pages with navigational buttons to scroll through previous pages. These pages can be viewed on the airportâs website and their mobile website. Airport ambassadors will also help travelers to page another passenger. CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International uses an extra screen on its banks of FIDs to raise awareness of its general and disability-related services and amenities, such as SARAs (Figure 5-10). 5.3.4 Security Wait Time Information Information about Security wait times is also a top priority upon arrival at the airport, if not before. This information is increasingly available on airline and airport websites and mobile apps, and it is also posted on site. MinneapolisâSaint Paul International has Security wait times Figure 5-9. Hearing loop signage at Greater Rochester International Airport check-in counter (Source: Greater Rochester International Airport).
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 71 displayed on large lighted screens in front of each Security checkpoint in Terminal 1âLindbergh (Figure 5-11), as well as on the airportâs website homepage. Travelers can also readily determine whether TSA PreCheck is available. 5.4 Check-In and Bag Drop U.S. carriers require travelers who are checking luggage (unless a self-service bag drop is available), individuals with certain special service request codes, and those needing disability- related assistance to approach the check-in counter. Finding an airlineâs check-in counters is generally less of an issue in domestic terminals, where external signage and curbside check-in direct people to the right area before they enter. In international terminals, directories listing the location of the various airline check-in counters should be available inside each entrance. Good lines of sight and prominent signage enable travelers to see what direction to follow. Lack of visual clutter, where no two signs overlap, also helps. Figure 5-10. FID screen highlighting SARAs at CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International Airport. Figure 5-11. Highly visible security wait times at MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport.
72 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Figure 5-12 shows an airline directory at BaltimoreâWashington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, with general locations designated by capital letters. The check-in area features easily visible airline signage and good lines of sight, with the large capital letters from the direc- tory standing out clearly in the distance. To reinforce the message, the yellow background color from the directory is carried over to the signage. Navigating check-in lines can be challenging for travelers who are blind. The queue manage- ment systems typically used in airports can also be a safety hazard. Single-belted stanchionsâ especially when perpendicular to the path of travelâmay not be detected by a cane or perceptible to a guide dog, who could walk right under the belt and cause the handler to fall forward. ADA-compliant double-belted stanchionsâthe lower belt of which is a maximum height of 27 inches above the finished floorâonly need to be used on the periphery of the queue. Double-belted stanchions are also used as the outside barrier in security lines (Figure 5-13). To eliminate the need for customers with disabilities to stand in line and to speed the process for service providers, British Airways has a dedicated check-in line at London Gatwick that is clearly marked for easy identification (Figure 5-14). When there is no need to check in directly with the airline, accessible kiosks may be available to check in, print boarding passes, make changes to reservations, and print bag tags. Regardless of the capabilities of the kiosk, airlines are required by Air Carrier Access Act Part 382 to have staff available to direct passengers to accessible kiosks, assist them in using the kiosks, or allow them to go to the front of the line at the check-in counter (U.S. Department of Transportation 2013). Under the 2013 Air Carrier Access Act and U.S. DOT Section 504 regulations, airlines and airports are required to make proprietary and shared-use automated airport kiosks installed after December 12, 2016, accessible until at least 25 percent of all kiosks in each airport location are compliant. The 25 percent applies to each cluster of kiosks and must be met by December 12, 2023 (U.S. Department of Transportation 2013). Per the requirement, airlines and airports share Figure 5-12. BaltimoreâWashington International Thurgood Marshall Airport airline directory (left) and check-in lobby with good lines of sight (right).
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 73 the responsibility for ensuring compliance and maintenance of accessible shared-use kiosks, also referred to as common-use self-service kiosks. The recently mandated kiosks are usable by most people with disabilities, including those who are blind. As the kiosks are touch screen, it is necessary to add a keypad thatâin conjunc- tion with auditory directions received via a headsetâenables people with vision loss to navigate the screen. However, the keypads used in the industry are not standardized, adding another challenge for those customers. Figure 5-15 shows the accessible check-in kiosks for U.S. air carriers JetBlue, Spirit, and United, each with a different type of keypad. More information on these keypads, manufactured by Storm Interface, can be found in Chapter 12. Figure 5-13. ADA-compliant double-belted stanchion at SarasotaâBradenton International Airport. Figure 5-14. British Airways special assistance check-in line at London Gatwick Airport.
74 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Another technology in development is speech command for self-service kiosks. Because of privacy laws, the legality of speech command technologies is still under discussion. However, Storm Interface is working toward a solution that would allow anyone with speech abilities to use a touch screen kiosk. The ability to control an airport kiosk through speech would represent a new level of ability and independence, especially for travelers with quadriplegia, limited reach and dexterity, or vision loss. This technology is discussed further in Chapter 12. San Francisco International designed the unique common-use self-service kiosks in their International Terminal in-house, making all six units in each kiosk accessible. The kiosks are built into a table (Figure 5-16), convenient for any traveler but especially helpful for those with limited dexterity who have trouble holding multiple objects at once or simply need a place to set items down. These kiosks have an EZ Trace keypad, headset jack, and passport scanner. San Francisco International plans to install these universally designed kiosks in its other terminals, as well. The airport has a Universal Design Committee responsible for this and other projects, such as the new service provider facility shown in Figure 5-3. Figure 5-15. Accessible airline kiosks: JetBlue (EZ Access Nav-Pad) (left), Spirit (Nav-Pad) (middle), and United (Nav-Bar) (right). Figure 5-16. Common-use self-service kiosks at San Francisco International Airport.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 75 Any time there is a need to stand in line, seating should be available near the queue wherever possible. Older travelers can quickly become fatigued or experience pain when they are required to stand for a long time. This is true for those standing in line and for any travel companions waiting for them. Checking luggage can be a challenge for travelers with limited upper-body strength. Vancouver International recently installed no-lift bag drop equipment with a belt that slopes down almost to the floor (Figure 5-17). When travelers lean their luggage onto it, the belt auto- matically takes the luggage as it moves. The attractive, recently installed check-in counters at Orlando International also have a low bag drop and other design features to accommodate travelers with disabilities (Figure 5-18). Figure 5-17. No-lift bag drop at Vancouver International Airport. Figure 5-18. Accessible check-in podiums at Orlando International Airport.
76 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities The curved front of the counter allows a closer approach for a passenger in a wheelchair, and the counter height is accessible, as well. The computer screens are adjustable so that agents can move the screen for better communication, in particular with passengers with hearing loss as it allows for better lip reading and to accommodate differences in height. 5.5 Pre-Security Amenities After arriving in ground transportation, travelers may need access to amenities such as accessible restrooms, bilevel drinking fountains, seating inside entrances to wait for other members of their party, or a cafÃ© or other grab-and-go food concession. Since May 13, 2009, SARAs have been required at U.S. airport terminals. These are typically on the Arriv- als level, either outside across the street from baggage claim or at the end(s) of the terminal building. Sections 5.5.1, 5.5.2, and 5.5.3 describe additional amenities and services that some air- ports offer their passengers with disabilities, each of which is discussed in more detail in Chapters 6 and 11. 5.5.1 Companion Restrooms Availability of companion restrooms landside, as well as airside, is important for older travelers and for people with disabilities who need assistance from a caregiver or partner of the opposite sex. These rooms are also more convenient for individuals receiving wheelchair assistance, since agents may go only as far as the restroom door, leaving passengers to wheel themselves (if in a standard wheelchair) or to walk from that point (if in a Staxi transport chair) (see Section 5.6.2). For individuals who are blind, navigation is also much easier in a companion restroom. 5.5.2 Adult Changing Facilities for Nonambulatory Passengers A number of airports, including BaltimoreâWashington International Thurgood Marshall and London Gatwick that already have adult changing facilities airsideâeither a dedicated changing space or a changing table in a companion restroomâplan to install them landside, as well. While dwell time before Security is typically short, the traveler may have had a long trip to the airport. It is important for an individualâs health and dignity to have the opportunity to change clothing or an adult diaper before going through Security screening, whichâfor people in wheelchairsâincludes more invasive pat downs by agents. Details on the design of adult changing rooms are provided in Chapter 11. 5.5.3 Designated Waiting Areas Areas for individuals waiting for wheelchair assistance are often placed inside terminal entrances near the ticketing area for each airline. These are typically no-frills areas roped off by stanchions with standard seating, a podium for service agents, and a âwheelchair assistanceâ sign. CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International provides comfortable, attractive seating in the small waiting area near check-in, making it a pleasant place to sit. The airportâs waiting area also has a subtle sign to inform other patrons that these desirable seats are reserved for travelers who are already checked in and awaiting assistance (Figure 5-19).
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 77 5.6 Airport Mobility Devices 5.6.1 Wheelchairs and Scooters for Loan Open Doors Organization research shows that people with disabilities usually travel with one or more companions. If wheelchairs are available for loan, people with reduced mobility may prefer to have a member of their party provide assistance rather than a service agent. This conve- nience enables freedom of movement for the traveler, who can shop or eat before heading to the gate; saves money on assistance for the airline or airport; and benefits the airport and its conces- sionaires with increased sales. Given how fast the demand for wheelchair service is growing, it is surprising that more airports in the U.S. do not permit passengers to borrow wheelchairs. Electric scooters may be another option for travelers who cannot walk to the gate, since they allow greater independence and do not have the same stigma of disability as wheelchairs. However, a pilot study of scooter rentals at CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International was not successful, perhaps because travelers were not aware in advance of the possibility of renting such a device. Scooter rentals are common in other large facilities such as theme parks, malls, and convention centers and may become the norm at major airports in the future. The following airports provide wheelchairs, scooters, or self-driving electric wheelchairs for loan to their customers: â¢ Orlando International freely loans wheelchairs for personal use. â¢ CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International stages wheelchairs inside entry doors so that companions can easily borrow one to assist a relative or friend from curbside to check-in. â¢ At London Heathrow, wheelchairs are available at no charge. Travelers simply request them at an information desk for use throughout their time at the airport. The wheelchair is retrieved later by airport staff. â¢ At Singapore Changi, wheelchairs are available for rent at a per-hour charge. â¢ Amsterdam Schiphol rents wheelchairs at a nominal charge that is refunded when the wheel- chair is returned. Inserting a coin enables the customer to unchain the wheelchair, much like some shopping carts in North America and Europe. One convenient rental location is in the airport railway station below the terminal. â¢ Birmingham in the UK offers courtesy electric scooters for use while at the airport. These scooters are free and do not require advance booking. Travelers can check out a scooter from OCSâthe airportâs service providerâupon arrival from ground transportation, go through Figure 5-19. Passenger assistance waiting area at CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International Airport.
78 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities a brief demonstration on how to use the scooter, and then use it independently until they board the plane. â¢ Developed by the Japanese company WHILL, Inc., WHILL Next is a smart, self-driving, elec- tric wheelchair that is controlled through a mobile app, providing not just mobility assistance but also navigation. After use, it can automatically return to its charging base or be called to assist the next customer. Tokyo Haneda is piloting the wheelchair, with the goal of having the service operational for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. Rather than being available for rent, WHILL Next will replace one-on-one agent assistance with automation. Additional details are provided in Chapter 12. 5.6.2 Wheelchairs Used by Service Companies There are a wide variety of wheelchair types used by service providers across the world. The wheelchair used traditionally in both airports and hospitals has large rear wheels, enabling passengers to move it independently, and comes in different sizes and weight capacities. As passengers have gotten heavier, it is necessary for airports to also have bariatric wheelchairs with weight capacities up to 700 lbs. and seat widths up to 30 inches. In recent years, the Staxi airport chair (Figure 5-20) has become popular at North American airports, while other models of transport chairs that also stack are available in Europe (Figure 5-2). With a 600 lb. weight capacity (800 lbs. for the bariatric model), the Staxi airport chair is equipped with an automatic braking system, a lifting armrest for easy side transfer, anti-tip bars, and a luggage rack underneath that is large enough to hold a small suitcase. Operationally, one of the most attractive features of this wheelchair is its stacking ability, which makes it easier to store many wheelchairs in a smaller space and to secure them to prevent theft. However, the Staxi is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Traditional wheelchairs still need to be available at airports that use them because the Staxi is not designed to provide postural support or to keep travelers from sliding forward if they cannot support their weight with their legs, which makes it unsafe for anyone who is paraplegic, quadriplegic, or who lacks upper-body control. Some airports require optional seatbelts to be added to Staxis. Travelers should not be left alone in a Staxi. They cannot move independently unless the brake is disengaged by the agent. And they may fall should they try to exit from the front, where they can trip on the footrest. Figure 5-20. Staxi airport chairs at Cincinnatiâ Northern Kentucky International Airport.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 79 PaxAssist, an airline service company based in New York City, has recently developed Jetweels, a transport chair made of transparent polycarbonate plastic that can pass through a standard airport metal detector without triggering the alarm. If approved by the TSA, it will enable passengers with limited mobility to remain seated during the screening process. Jetweels is lightweight and features a safety harness, a smart braking system, and a baggage tray for storage (Figure 5-21). The innovative wheelchair is being piloted in Terminal 4 at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. Innovative airport chair designs are also coming out of Japan. Japan Airlines at Oita Airport, Osaka International Airport, and Tokyo Haneda Terminal 1 uses a wood transport chair that does not trigger metal detectors (Figure 5-22). The Morph wheelchair (Figure 5-23) functions throughout the entire airport journey from terminal curbside to the passengerâs seat on the plane. All Nippon Airways currently uses this wheelchair at the Tokyo Haneda domestic terminal and plans to take it systemwide this year. The Morph wheelchair is made of resin and can go through security screening without trig- gering the alarm. The large back wheels are removable, making it easy to transfer in and out and narrow enough to fit down aircraft aisles. A video of this award-winning wheelchair from Matsunaga Manufactory Co. can be seen on YouTube. There are also add-ons that can help to make airport wheelchairs more functional for service providers. The Passenger Transport from Motor Dolly (Figure 5-24) is a motorized unit that attaches to the back of a standard wheelchair, a bariatric wheelchair, or a Staxi, and helps the service provider to better manage inclines and transport heavy travelers with little physical effort. The unit has a throttle-like control that, when engaged, essentially turns the wheelchair into a powered chair. Made by Centicare, Bull Horn wheelchair handles were created to improve ergonomics for caregivers and wheelchair attendants by raising the force that can be exerted on ramps or when assisting heavier passengers. The Bull Horn handlesâ vertical design (Figure 5-25) provides a more comfortable hand position and posture, no matter the height of the user. Manual wheelchairs Figure 5-21. Jetweels polycarbonate transport chair (Source: PaxAssist).
80 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Figure 5-22. Wood transport chair used by Japan Airlines. Figure 5-23. The Morph wheelchair used at Tokyo Haneda Airport domestic terminal.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 81 Figure 5-24. Passenger Transport motor on Staxi wheelchair (Source: Motor Dolly). in use at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and at the Greater Rochester International Airport are equipped with these vertical handles. This innovative solution was introduced to airline service companies at the 2017 Open Doors Organization Airline Service Company Symposium. 5.7 Moving from Terminal Entrance to Security As conveyances such as moving walkways or electric carts are seldom available prior to Secu- rity (even at large airports), individuals who cannot stand for long periods or walk long dis- tances have little choice but to travel with their own wheelchair or scooter; borrow an airport wheelchair, where available; or use wheelchair assistance provided by the airport or airline. While elevators are not in themselves an innovation, they can be designed and located in ways that better serve travelers in general, as well as those with functional limitations. These include the following: â¢ Locating elevators close to and in view of escalators and stairs so that older travelers, people with reduced mobility, and others burdened with luggage or strollers use them, thereby reduc- ing the likelihood of accidents; Figure 5-25. Bull Horn wheelchair handles on traditional wheelchairs at the Mayo Clinic.
82 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities â¢ Ensuring that elevator size is appropriate for the volume of demand, with larger elevators provided landside where travelers more often have luggage carts to transport checked and carry-on bags; â¢ Designating an elevator as priority use for people using wheelchairs where bottlenecks are a problem, such as at London Heathrow Terminal 2; â¢ Using large, flow-through elevators landside so that people in wheelchairs and others with luggage and carts can enter and exit without turning around or backing out. These elevators are increasingly common in major U.S. airports, including New York John F. Kennedy, Newark Liberty International, and Chicago OâHare International; â¢ Adjusting the door timing at elevator banks so that travelers using a wheelchair or scooter have enough time to move from the call button to the arriving car; â¢ Adjusting the alert volume that indicates the car has arrived to coincide with noise levels at the specific location (e.g., raising the volume in noisier areas, such as Security checkpoints); â¢ Equipping elevators with audible cues that announce the floor and its function (e.g., âLevel 2: Ticketing,â rather than the standard âbeepâ sound), which is especially helpful to those with vision loss; â¢ Making the elevator automatic (i.e., it stops at each floor); and â¢ Including signage with tactile and Braille lettering and pictograms, as well as visual characters to inform all travelers of the facilities and services on each airport level (Figure 5-26). 5.8 Security Screening Process and Technology The security screening process is for many travelersâincluding older adults and people with disabilitiesâthe most stressful airport touchpoint. Although new automated screening tech- nologies are being implemented worldwide and making the process quicker and easier, their unfamiliarity may be an additional cause of anxiety. For individuals who cannot be screened in the standard manner, the process can be more complex and time consuming. Whether for a person using a wheelchair who needs an addi- tional pat down and individual screening or older travelers who have difficulty standing with Figure 5-26. Elevator destination signage with tactile and Braille characters and pictograms at London Heathrow Airport.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 83 their hands above their heads, the experience as a whole can be physically and mentally draining. This is also true for people with hearing loss who are at an extra disadvantage at a noisy checkpoint. At many U.S. airports, checkpoints have an expedited screening lane for passengers with dis- abilities, often the same line as crew and employees. However, the signs have no standardized wording. Some may read âSpecial Needs,â while others read âWheelchair Assistanceâ or only display an ISA, making it unclear to individuals with sensory or hidden needs whether they qualify for that lane. This is particularly the case if they are navigating the airport on their own. Figure 5-27 shows the âWheelchair Assistanceâ lane at Orlando International, identified by overhead signage and a sign with the ISA pictogram at the entrance to the lane. Another challenge is that not all TSA PreCheck lanes are wheelchair accessible due to space limitations at some airports and, as a result, those using a wheelchair or scooter may have to go through standard screening processes even if they have paid to register in the program. However, even in standard screening, individuals 75 years and older do not have to remove shoes or light jackets, and travelers with disabilities and medical conditions do not have to remove shoes. To better serve a variety of different communities, the TSA in 2002 created advisory bod- ies known as the TSA Disability and Medical Condition Coalition and the TSA Multicultural Coalition. The two groups meet jointly with the TSA each year and hold separate teleconferences more frequently. Up to 40 organizationsâincluding Open Doors Organizationâpartner with TSA, bringing forward complaints and recommendations on how to improve the screening process for their members. The partners also help to develop and deliver targeted training for the TSA passenger support specialists and to create the educational videos that the TSA posts online (Griggs and Fitzmaurice 2018). Recently, TSA invited the partners to provide input on new checkpoint technologies, as well. Many of the improvements in how people with disabilities and medical conditions are screened have come out of this collaboration. The following include some of these programs and accommodations: â¢ TSA.gov is mobile compliant and has a large, detailed section on Disabilities and Medical Conditions. â¢ TSA Cares, established in 2011, provides a toll-free hotline that enables travelers to ask questions about the screening process and to book appointments with passenger support specialists, if they call 72 hours before the flight. Figure 5-27. Wheelchair assistance screening lane at Orlando International Airport.
84 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Figure 5-28. UbiDuo 2 Wireless Communication Technology (Source: sComm). â¢ The TSA Cares video series helps people with various disabilities prepare for screening. In addition, more than 20 TSA general-interest videosâsuch as travel tips for automated screening lines and PreCheckâare posted on YouTube. â¢ The TSA Passenger Support Specialist Program provides specially trained individuals to assist people with disabilities and medical conditions with the screening process and to resolve any concerns on the spot. By 2018, more than 2,250 trained passenger support specialists had been assigned nationwide at 440 airports. If a traveler has an appointment booked with a pas- senger support specialist, the passenger is met at a specific checkpoint and personally assisted through the process before continuing independently or with a service agent to the gate. â¢ The TSA Social Media Program on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook educates the public and answers questions. The TSA social care team monitors and responds to queries from passengers with disabilities and medical conditions on AskTSA Twitter and Facebook Messenger accounts (Griggs and Fitzmaurice 2018). To facilitate communication at Security checkpoints, the TSA has several options already in place: â¢ Downloadable for print from the TSA website, the TSA notification card is filled out with the name of the travelerâs medical problem or disability and handed to a TSA officer. Typically, the card is used when the condition may be sensitive or embarrassing or if the traveler has difficulty communicating verbally. â¢ Instruction books in multiple languages contain all of the standard directions typically given to travelers. When a foreign language speaker or someone with hearing loss is having prob- lems understanding instructions, the TSA agent can simply point to the message they are trying to communicate in the personâs native language or in English. â¢ UbiDuo communication devices are available at some security checkpointsâincluding SeattleâTacoma Internationalâto facilitate communication with people who have hearing loss or a speech disability. UbiDuo 2 Wireless has two keyboards and enables the TSA agent and traveler to quickly text back and forth while seeing both sides of the conversation on the split screens (Figure 5-28). In 2016, TSA created its Innovation Task Force, a publicâprivate partnership to help identify and pilot exceptional screening technologies with the goal of enhancing security while ensuring
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 85 a positive travel experience. In partnership with airlines and airport authorities, the Innova- tion Task Force began installing automated screening lanes at major U.S. airports. While not designed specifically for the needs of travelers with disabilities and for older adults, these automated screening lanes can help to make the screening process less stressful once their functionality is understood. As there are a number of stations where passengers can place their items in a tray and then onto the belt, anyone who needs more time does not have to worry about holding up the line. However, this technology does not solve the need to lift items onto the belt; in fact, since carry-on suitcases also need to be put into trays, the distance to lift is now higher. New automated lanes at Denver International Airport are shown in Figure 5-29. Also piloted by the TSA Innovation Task Force at Denver International, the enhanced advanced imaging technology (eAIT) body scanner allows travelers to be screened without holding their hands above their heads or being enclosed in a machine, which may be stressful for individuals with cognitive or psychological disabilities. This new scanner will benefit older travelers and anyone with balance problems or limited use or range of motion of their arms (Figure 5-30). It is also expected to speed up the screening process, since scans take less than a second (Dorsey 2018). The eAITâs open design also enables individuals in wheelchairs to pass through before receiving individual screening and, thus, eliminates the need for a separate ADA-compliant gate. The eAIT is one among the emerging screening technologies being evaluated. The Innovation Checkpoint at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, a collaborative venture with TSA, is another (Craig 2019). More details are available in Chapter 12. The TSA Innovation Task Force also identified the Tensator Virtual Assistant (Figure 5-31), which can be used to deliver prerecorded messages in multiple languages, including American Sign Language. Tensatorâs high-definition projected imaging and audiovisual technology cre- ate the illusion of a real person and capture a passerbyâs attention in a way that informational signs cannot. At Boston Logan International, the Virtual Assistantâdressed as a MassPort customer service agentâdelivers TSA security information in English and Spanish to more than 6,000 travelers a day. This service speeds the screening process by getting travelers ready and frees up TSA agents to focus on screening. After piloting the Tensator Virtual Assistant in Terminal E, Boston Logan also deployed them in Terminals A, B, and C (Tensator 2019). A video of Carla, the Boston Logan Virtual Assistant, is available on YouTube. Figure 5-29. Automated screening lanes at Denver International Airport.
86 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Figure 5-30. Quick Personnel Security Scanner (QPS200) (Source: Rohde & Schwartz USA, Inc.). Figure 5-31. Tensator demonstration at the Passenger Terminal Expo 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden.
From Terminal Curbside Through Security 87 In Europe, Vision-Box security screening eGates allow travelers to scan their own boarding pass to get to the designated Security checkpoint. It is possible to have lanes wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, although some airportsâsuch as London Heathrowâ have a wide lane only for manual document inspection (Figure 5-32). Biometric screening technologies are becoming popular worldwide. Once preregistered, pas- sengers can get through Security checkpoints with only a boarding pass and a scan of their face, retina, and/or fingerprints. They do not need to show identification. More information about biometric screening technologies can be found in Chapter 12. Once through Security, travelers are typically faced with a lack of adequate space and seating in the checkpoint recomposure area. Where provided, benches are often too low and lack arm- rests, which makes it hard for some older travelers to stand up. This issue was raised at a 2018 meeting of the MinneapolisâSaint Paul Travelers with Disabilities Advisory Committee and resulted in the addition of a row of higher seats with armrests at each of the airportâs Security checkpoints. Additional information on seating is found in Chapter 6. Figure 5-32. Vision-Box eGate with automated wheelchair lane (Source: Vision-Box).