Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

IDEAS: British Airways Introduces Signed Video Content for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Customers

5 months ago

British Airways is working with SigncodeUK on a new partnership to provide accessible signed video content for its deaf and hard-of-hearing customers.

Fredrick Da Costa, British Airways’ first Deaf Customer Experience Agent, features in the signed video content.
Credit: British Airways

The first video, which you can take a look at below, has been created to provide a more comprehensive overview of the travel journey, from the booking process to the in-flight experience. The video also features Fredrick Da Costa, British Airways’ first Deaf Customer Experience Agent who uses BSL as part of his role. 

British Airways has announced that a second video is expected to be released by the end of 2023 that will focus on onboard safety features and procedures, as well as also exploring the opportunity to provide the content in additional additional languages.

The new signed video content will be available to customers both pre-travel and whilst on board, and can be accessed via a link or a unique QR code.

“We are proud to partner with SigncodeUK to further improve our accessibility offering for our Deaf and hard of hearing customers. This collaboration aligns with our ongoing commitment to ensure that all our customers have a seamless experience and can travel with confidence, with dignity and in comfort,” said Carrie Harris, director of sustainability at British Airways in a release.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: Air Canada Introduces New Tracking Tool for Baggage and Mobility Aids

6 months ago

Air Canada is launching a new feature within its mobile app that will enable customers to track their baggage and mobility aids in real time.

Air Canada Customers Can Now Track their Baggage and Mobility Aids while Travelling in Canada.
Credit: Air Canada

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than one in every 100 wheelchairs and scooters that travel in the cargo hold of an aircraft on domestic flights are damaged, delayed, or lost.

The tracking feature, which is integrated into the Air Canada mobile app, will provide updates on items at key milestones throughout the journey, and has been implemented to provide travelers with ‘added confidence and improve the overall customer experience through greater convenience,’ according to Air Canada.

Although only available to customers traveling within Canada at present, Air Canada expects the feature to be expanded to U.S. flights next year. 

“At Air Canada, we know that apart from a safe, comfortable journey, the prompt delivery of baggage and mobility aids is a top priority for our customers. We already achieve a very high reliability rate, but to further elevate our service we are introducing a new tracking feature in the Air Canada mobile app to give customers real-time information, greater certainty about the movement of their belongings during their trip, and heightened convenience,” said Tom Stevens, vice president, customer experience and operations strategy at Air Canada in a release.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: Emirates Launches New Initiative to Support Neurodivergent Passengers

7 months ago

Emirates and Dubai International Airport are working with local schools, autism groups and key stakeholders on a new initiative in an effort to improve the travel experience for neurodivergent passengers. 

Credit: Emirates

The ‘travel rehearsals’ have been designed to allow neurodivergent passengers to practice their journey through the airport and onboard aircraft, during which they are provided boarding passes and taken through security, to recreate the full travel experience. 

Throughout the process the individuals involved are accompanied by family members and therapists, with the aim of empowering families when navigating the travel process, whilst also providing key learnings for Emirates and the airport.

Credit: Emirates

One example highlighted by the operator is ‘Emirates superfan’ Humza Dabab, who is autistic. 11 year old Humza recently flew from Melbourne to Dubai with his family, and was treated to a ‘a VIP experience from Emirates’ ahead of his flight.

The travel rehearsals join a number of initiatives Emirates and Dubai International Airport currently have in place to support travelers with additional needs, including enhanced employee training, autism friendly routes to navigate the airport, priority boarding, complimentary parking and the ability to pre-order meals.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: United to Launch Enhanced Digital Services for Personal Wheelchair Users

8 months ago

United Airlines has announced that it will launch a suite of new tools and policies at the end of 2023 that have been designed to improve the travel experience for customers who use a wheelchair.

Credit: United Airlines

The new accessibility initiative will include a digital filter on united.com that will allow travelers to identify aircraft that can accommodate different sized chairs, and a revised refund policy that will adapt flight fares in the event that customers are required to purchase a higher-fare ticket to accommodate a specific wheelchair size. 

“By offering customers an easy way to know if their personal wheelchair fits on a particular airplane, we can give them the peace of mind they deserve when they fly with us,” said Linda Jojo, executive vice president and chief customer officer for United. 

“Plus, collecting this information ahead of time ensures our team can handle these special items with proper care and attention.”

United will also begin a six-month pilot program later this year at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport to explore ways in which it can support customers in the event their wheelchair has been damaged or delayed while traveling, in collaboration with its Accessible Travel Advisory Board.

United and the U.S. Department of Transportation will deliver these initiatives through a mutual agreement to increase accessibility for customers who require the use of a wheelchair.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ideas

IDEAS: TUI to Offer British Sign Language Interpretation for Customers

8 months ago

TUI has announced a partnership with SignLive to provide customers with the option to have their conversations with the firm interpreted into British Sign Language (BSL).

Credit: SHVETS production

In order to use the service customers will need to sign up for free to SignLive, at which point they will be able to call TUI via its online directory. Customers will then be paired with the TUI Accessibility Team and a SignLive interpreter, who will interpret the conversation in real time.

“At TUI we want to make traveling with us as easy as possible for everyone. SignLive has come to us with an amazing solution for our customers who use British Sign Language (BSL). This service means that these customers can have conversations with our team to ensure they book the perfect holiday for them and get any additional support they might need,” said Sue Bradley, director of customer experience, at TUI.

“Customers can speak to our contact center team about new or existing bookings all by signing up to SignLive for free for support with hotel information, navigating airports or booking accessible transfers in resort.”

The service is now live, and the video has been released to explain how the service works:


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ideas

Skift IDEAS: San José Mineta International Airport Pilots Autonomous Personal Mobility Vehicle

8 months ago

San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) has launched a pilot scheme featuring BBGO, a fully autonomous personal mobility vehicle from Blueberry Technology.

Credit: San José Mineta International Airport/Blueberry technology

The BBGO has been designed to ‘supplement mobility needs for those who do not want to use a wheelchair, but who may still want support navigating through the Airport’.

The vehicle taking part in the pilot – named “Dorothy” after famed chemist, Dorothy Hodgkin – will offer users fully autonomous rides to their departure gates by simply scanning their boarding passes, with the added option of personalizing journeys to include stops at restrooms, shops and restaurants. 

In addition to the fully autonomous option, the BBGO can be steered by a user controlled joystick or via traditional manual pushing. For safety, the vehicle is equipped with an automatic collision avoidance system.

“We are very proud to be immersed in the ingenuity of Silicon Valley. Providing an opportunity to pilot test in a real airport environment allows us to be on the cutting edge of customer experience while supporting companies like Blueberry, who can see a real need and use innovation and technology to develop a solution,” said, John Aitken, SJC Airport Director.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: British Airways Partners with Alzheimer’s Society to Support Customers Travelling with Dementia

8 months ago

British Airways has announced a three-year partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, a UK-based charity that works to support people living with and affected by dementia. 

Credit: British Airways

The new partnership will see British Airways and the Alzheimer’s Society working closely on a number of initiatives designed to make travelling with dementia more accessible, including bespoke training for customer-facing colleagues and the introduction of Dementia Friends across the organization.

The Alzheimer’s Society has also become a beneficiary of the BA Better World Community Fund, which has seen more than £3.4 million raised since its launch in April 2022. 

“I’m delighted to announce this partnership between British Airways and Alzheimer’s Society. This is a subject very close to my heart and many of us have experienced a loved one living with dementia and know the added anxiety that travel can bring. Through this partnership, we continue our commitment to make travel accessible for everyone while raising awareness and funds for the vital work this fantastic charity does,” said Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Airlines

IDEAS: United Introduces Braille to Improve Aircraft Cabin Accessibility

10 months ago

United has introduced Braille markings on its aircraft interiors – becoming the first U.S. airline to do so – giving travelers with visual impairments the opportunity to navigate aircraft cabins independently.

The carrier states that it has already equipped around 12 aircraft with Braille labels, which are in place to indicate individual rows, seat numbers and information in and around the lavatories. 

Credit: United

United has stated it plans to extend the Braille implementation across its entire mainline fleet over the next three years. 

“Finding your seat on a plane or getting to the restroom is something most of us take for granted, but for millions of our customers, it can be a challenge to do independently. By adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that’s good for everyone,” said Linda Jojo, executive vice president, chief customer officer at United. 

The introduction of Braille is part of an ongoing partnership between United, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB), which aims to explore additional ways to support visually impaired travelers on board its flights. 

“We applaud United for taking an important step toward making its aircraft more accessible to blind passengers. The flight experience is often frustrating for a number of reasons, one of which is the amount of information that is available exclusively through printed signs and other visual indicators. We hope to continue working with United to explore additional ways to make flying more accessible and less stressful for blind passengers,” said Mark Riccobono, president at the National Federation of the Blind.

United joins other carriers, like Delta, which recently revealed a new concept seat for wheelchair users, in a continuing effort to make travel more inclusive and accessible to all passengers.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ideas

IDEAS: Dublin Airport Introduces Advice Guide for Senior Travelers

11 months ago

Dublin Airport has released a new advice guide to support senior travelers when preparing to visit the airport during the busy summer months. 

Dublin Airport operator DAA, in partnership with Age Action, has created the free guide with the aim of alleviating travel anxieties for older passengers as they navigate through the airport.

The guide provides practical information and guidance on every step of the airport journey, such as getting to the airport, check-in desk locations, preparing for security screening, restroom locations, as well as the whereabouts of shops and restaurants. Additionally, it offers valuable guidance on seeking assistance from airport staff when needed.

The guide can be downloaded here

“We want to take the stress out of traveling for our older passengers or anyone who feels anxious ahead of their journey,” said Louise Bannon, director of marketing at Dublin Airport.

“The short, but comprehensive guide, will give reassurance to passengers with a helpful overview of the passenger journey, offering practical travel tips, and contact details for further assistance. It has been thoughtfully designed, in consultation with Age Action, to help anxious or unfamiliar travelers navigate the airport more easily, providing crucial information about facilities, services, and procedures.”


At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Ideas

IDEAS: Greece is Transforming Beaches to be Wheelchair-Accessible

11 months ago

A new initiative in Greece is enabling wheelchair users access to hundreds of beaches thanks to an innovative remote controlled accessibility system, as per The Greek Reporter.

Credit: Seatrac

Designed by Greek company Tobea, Seatrec is a complimentary service aimed at providing sea access to individuals with disabilities and limited mobility, allowing them to ‘swim in the sea independently, safely, and inclusively.’

You can take a look at the system in action below:

With 147 beaches already transformed and a total of 287 planned, the initiative will also see essential accessibility improvements made at beach locations including changing facilities, parking areas, ramps, and refreshment bars.

The Tourism Ministry has also created a website with further information regarding the project, along with an interactive map of accessible beaches.


At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.