“The Sultanate of Oman has the best standard of service for those with mobility issues while travelling to the airport,” says Elly Hollemans, a 70 year-old retired teacher of English from Vlaardingen, a city in South Holland in the Netherlands.
A frequent visitor to the Sultanate of Oman, she has been very impressed by the standard of service which she receives during her frequent visits to the country.
Elly rates the service from the airport assistants as ‘far superior’ when compared to other airports all over the globe through which she has passed through in the last 15 years.
After some serious health issues a few years ago leading to operations and later to a kidney transplant Elly found she was unable to walk unaided for more than a few dozen yards and had difficulty maintaining her balance when standing for more than a few minutes.
As a result she has been using a walking frame (walker) or stroller to get around.
Richard Harrison, Founder and Director, Canford Publishing, based in Muscat and UK, hosts Elly during her visits to Muscat and resides at the Bareeq Al Shatti Apartments.
Elly mentions that not even prominent airports such as Heathrow, Miami, Dubai or Schiphol care for those with mobility issues, but it is the airport staff assistants at the Muscat International Airport who have been very ‘cooperative and supportive’ with her.
She has always made use of the assistance provided by airports on arrival and departure for passengers with limited mobility.
In particular Elly praises the warmth and the caring attitude of the staff, some of whom recognise and call her ‘Amma’ (mother) with extended arms upon her arrival at the airport.
Some even go to the extent of checking with her if she needs any money or if she needs to get help at the duty free shopping or to get to the parking area at the airport arrival on way to her guest’s home.
A sprightly woman, Elly who goes about her normal activity says, “I have some good experiences with the airport ground staff in the Sultanate of Oman and they handle all my issues very smoothly. The staff is very punctual and their attitude is strong, always courteous and I offer my compliments for their work. Their service is so good when compared with other international airports.”
She has received excellent and timely help from the ground handler staff who assist her throughout the process; starting from the check-in until boarding the aircraft. There is a dedicated path and immigration counter for these passengers to speed up the immigration process which makes their journey pleasant.
This incredible feeling prompted her to write to the airport authorities appreciating their gesture.
The airport also offers assistance to passengers with wheelchairs. In order to benefit from this service, passengers are required to proceed to the ‘Passengers with reduced Mobility’ office which is clearly signposted in the departures area at the forecourt.
Elly has always loved to travel and she has not let her mobility issues stop her from exploring new countries and have visited the Sultanate of Oman on several occasions.
The airports or cities she has visited around the world during this period number around 20 and often travels alone. The airports are Muscat, Schiphol, Dubai, Hong Kong, Colombo, Miami, Orlando, Heathrow, Lisbon, Bali, Krakau, Stockholm, Helsinki, Dublin, Cork, and Istanbul, Dalaman airport (Turkey), Marrakech, Curaçao and Nice.
In 2004 Elly first started to use the walkers, the initial ones were about 13 kg. She prefers the red colour ones though it comes in various other colours now.
She now uses the Trust Care Outdoor Walker of Swedish make with a weight of about 4 kg costing around RO 200. The use of the stroller has given Elly total independence and freedom to move around like any normal individual.
The outdoor walker is lightweight, smooth and steady and needs little space and stands by itself when folded. This makes her easy to handle the walker during her travels and flight journey. The elegant large front wheels make it easy to turn and cross pavement kerbs. The rear wheel fenders help to protect the clothes from getting dirty.
Shock-absorbing suspension on the rear wheels makes it run smoothly on all surfaces. Added to its advantage is it is fitted with an artificial soft leather seat and removable bag, which is designed for indoor and especially outdoor use.
Richard, an ELT author, teacher trainer and consultant, says Elly has become something of an expert on the level of assistance provided by each airport in terms of organisation of the assistance, punctuality and perhaps most importantly the attitude of the assistants who collect her from the plane on arrival or from check-in on departure and guide her and her luggage to the waiting car or taxi (or to the plane).
Elly had mentioned the service aspects to Richard several times in recent years and they thought it would be useful and interesting to share this positive view of Muscat airport with the readers through the Oman Observer.
Her visits to the Sultanate of Oman are usually during the Christmas holidays. She goes around exploring the parks, beaches and public places in Muscat.
During her present visit, Elly was seen moving around in her stroller for an evening walk at the Qurum Natural Park, Muttrah Souq or at the The Palace Wonderland, a winter market, hosted by Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Determined that she is, Elly is confident she will make more visits to the Sultanate of Oman in the future, which she terms as a ‘peaceful country with hospitable citizens.’