UK charity to partner with Virgin Airlines to better assist passengers with visual impairments


Virgin Atlantic airlines will be adding additional training for employees, in order to equip them with more skills to support visually impaired travelers. 

The airline will be partnering with U.K.-based charity Guide Dogs in order to better understand the support that can be given to those with visual impairments during travel, which can be stressful.

Guide Dogs also breeds and trains working dogs around the world, according to the organization’s website. 

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Guide Dogs, the organization, will be providing specific training to airline employees, everything from navigating busy areas to deciding where the guide dog should be placed during a long flight. 

The announcement comes on the heels of an “alarming” One Poll conducted in February, reported Simpleflying.com.

Sight loss guide dog

Virgin Atlantic and Guide Dogs have announced a long-term partnership. It aims to create a more inclusive air travel experience for people with sight loss.  (SWNS)

For the poll, 250 British people with sight loss were quizzed on their travel experiences. “Although roughly 60% noted they would be keen to travel more, 68% felt discouraged due to previous negative experiences,” that publication noted.

Virgin Atlantic released a press statement about the collaboration, noting that 250 people in the United Kingdom begin losing their sight every day. 

The company wants each passenger to have a great experience traveling with the airline, Virgin Atlantic chief customer and operations officer Corneel Koster also said in a media statement.

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“Our partnership with Guide Dogs is one part of this journey and aims to broaden our understanding of those traveling with sight loss, ensuring that we make flying more accessible for everyone,” he also said.

Sight loss guide dog

Guide Dogs is a U.K.-based charity that breeds and trains guide dogs around the world. The new initiative with Virgin Airlines will offer cabin crew appropriate training on how to support people flying with a visual impairment.  (SWNS)

A Maryland woman who cared for her blind mother-in-law for many years said that the collaboration will be “welcome news to the people who love someone with sight loss, too.”

She added, “One of our most fearful times was when my mother-in-law was flying. People with sight impairment are literally at the mercy of strangers.”

Virgin Atlantic employees will be able to participate in detailed trainings in order to learn how to guide someone with sight loss with “confidence, skill and empathy.”

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Guide Dogs customer experience lead John Welsman hopes the partnership will allow those with sight loss to have a better travel experience. 

“By providing advice to cabin crew and having them undertake sighted guide training, we hope blind and partially-sighted passengers will have the confidence to travel as fully and independently as possible,” he said in a media statement. 

Sight loss guide dog

Virgin Atlantic has also partnered with the U.K. charity to provide each cabin crew member with online resources along with their wider training program, in an effort to improve accessibility and create a more inclusive travel experience.  (SWNS)

Virgin Atlantic started flying in 1984.

It is led by its chairman, entrepreneur Richard Branson.

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Some 2.2 billion people worldwide have a visual impairment of some type, the World Health Organization says.

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