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Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) yesterday welcomed some very special guests as part of Guide Dogs week in the UK.

Guide Dogs Liverpool owners Dawn from Runcorn and Roy from Aigburth, along with their guide dogs Kerry and Pudsey, came into the airport to educate airport staff about the needs of visually impaired passengers.

LJLA recently gained approval for care assistant animals to travel on both international and domestic flights. To help improve the airport’s customer services, Guide Dogs UK were invited to visit to share their expertise.

Dawn, Roy, Kerry and Pudsey passed through the Airport on a mock passenger journey, including; checking-in for a flight, passing through security, moving through the departure lounge and walking to the departure gate. A mock return journey then followed up with the Guide Dogs Liverpool owners passing through the arrivals process in an attempt to help Border Agency and other staff better understand their responsibilities when dealing with guide dogs and their owners as they travel through an airport.

Penny Williams, an Engagement Officer for the Guide Dogs Association, explained the exercise.

“The idea of coming in today was really to have a sort of mystery shop exercise for guide dog owners going through the airport, through the processes, and seeing if they could point out anything that they may be able to improve on here at the airport and also to tell staff the things that they’re doing really well,” she said. “We also wanted to show that guide dog owners like to travel independently, flying from their local airport here in Liverpool to places across Europe.”

Christina Smith, Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s customer services co-ordinator, believed the exercise was a real benefit to the airport staff.

“We are very keen to encourage people with care assistant animals to travel through our airport and we are always looking out for new ways that we, as an airport, can improve our customer services,” she said. “By inviting the Guide Dog experts in, it was an ideal opportunity to improve our services and we learned a lot. Hopefully our relationship with Guide Dogs will grow from here.”

Penny Williams agreed that the exercise was a great success and encouraged more guide dog owners to use Liverpool John Lennon Airport in the future.

“The staff did really well, they were very considerate. We made a few recommendations that the airport have taken on board and hopefully we can work together in the future,” she said. “Everyone really enjoyed it and we hope lots more guide dog owners will come through the airport in future.”

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