I recently went to Stockholm on a family mini break, flying via Heathrow Airport. I was delighted to see we were flying from Terminal 5 which has a Changing Places WC. This meant I could enjoy my customary on-board G&T and not worry about being bursting for the loo.
Changing Places make a real difference to disabled people who can’t transfer without a hoist or need a changing bench. These passengers, including myself, are more likely to need to get to the airport earlier because we’ll be needing to check-in specialist equipment including powered wheelchairs. So we need to leave the house earlier to go to the airport. After the flight, on landing, we are always the last ones off the aircraft whilst our wheelchairs are unloaded. We then might have to wait for specialist transport to take us to our hotels. Even for relatively short flights to Europe, this could easily mean a 12 hour wait without the loo from home to hotel. CPs users are more likely to incur longer door-to-door journeys and yet we are the ones for whom toilet facilities are invariably not provided.
Changing Places also need to be at both airports in your journey, in departures and arrivals. It’s so frustrating to land after 7 hours without going to the loo, get distracted trying to solve problems with your powered chair, get whizzed through Passport Control by an eager airport assistant and then realise the Changing Places loo is ‘air side’ and you’ve missed your chance. A 2-hour drive home at 1am whilst bursting for the loo awaits. What a nice end to your ‘relaxing’ mini break!
Guidance urges Changing Places to be available in all major transport hubs. Yes, but they need to be in all terminals, not just ‘air side’ and at both ends of your journey.