AviationThe free-to-use app, Vira, connects passengers directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through the airport and assists with finding specific locations.

App for visually impaired launched at Heathrow Airport

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A visually-impaired person holding a white cane.
A visually-impaired person holding a white cane. Photo Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

The free-to-use Aira app connects passengers directly to an agent for advice on navigating through the airport and assists with finding specific locations – including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news affecting their journey.

London Heathrow Airport has partnered technology company Aira to offer visually impaired passengers on-demand, personalised assistance via an app.

The free-to-use Aira app connects passengers directly to an agent for advice on navigating through the airport and assists with finding specific locations – including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news affecting their journey.

Guided assistance is available on demand upon arrival, and can also be pre-booked through the passenger’s airline.

This move follows the airport’s existing 23-million-pound investment in a contract with partner, OmniServ, to “[transform] the assistance service” for their passengers, according to Jonathan Coen, director of customer relations and service, Heathrow Airport. 

Said Coen, “Aira takes us one step further – and will deliver a better travel experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their journey via Heathrow.”

The number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising by approximately eight per cent each year, with over one million requests in 2017 alone – more than any other European airport.

Last year, the airport also launched the ‘SignLive’ app, which connects passengers to trained British Sign Language translators on demand.

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