Vueling it will apply a stricter protocol during the boarding of people with reduced mobility and threatens not to let fly passengers who do not respect it. An internal directive, to which EL PAÍS has had access, requires ground staff not to allow access to the aircraft to those customers who require special attention but who fail to comply with the schedule and notice requirements set by Vueling and Aena. The company alleges that the measure is taken looking provide "the best possible service" to its users.
Passengers with reduced mobility who do not take advantage of the priority shift they have booked during boarding will not be able to fly. This is the responsibility of an internal Vueling document that toughens the protocol for managing the boarding operations of its customers with reduced mobility. These passengers, who in the sector are known as PMR, are those who request specific attention to reach the boarding gates and access the planes. It includes those who suffer some disability but also people who claim to have mobility difficulties, whether due to age, illness or overweight.
In the majority of cases the attention is sent with a wheelchair and the accompaniment of specific personnel. The internal regulations – "of immediate application", according to a spokesman of the company -, point out that those who contract Vueling tickets must go a minimum of two hours before the departure of the flight to the counter if they do not want to remain on land. Only in case they had notified of their special needs 48 hours in advance of the flight, they can expedite their request for service up to one hour before departure. The company indicates that the regulations are not new but that the staff has acted with flexibility until now.
The delays bring Vueling head first. The airline fears for the effects that the congestion of the airspace could cause in its operations and, after two summers with serious service problems, it tries to adjust the mechanisms to increase its efficiency and mitigate the delays. It has invested 30 million euros in aircraft and reserve crew for contingencies, and, with no margin to warn against the weather or the possible protests of air traffic controllers, basically in France, Vueling has fixed the magnifying glass on those aspects that do depend on its direct competition.
The company has ordered to review the boarding procedures and, according to the document written by the department of stopovers at the Barcelona-El Prat airport, the personnel has the order to be strict in the control over the PRM. The company confirms that the directive will be applied in all airports where it operates.
Vueling alleges that the measure seeks to raise awareness among the PMRs: 120,000 requests on 90,000 flights during 2018. It also claims that the protocol will serve to improve the service provided by the companies responsible for serving the PMRs, contracted by Aena after the tender.