When His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai arrived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia late on Sunday evening, all the focus should have been on urgent talks that were being held to discuss a multi-billion dollar aid package for Jordan. Instead, what caught our attention were the mobile aircraft escalator steps that allowed the dignitaries to glide down from the Boeing 747 Royal flight.
— Dubai Media Office (@DXBMediaOffice) June 10, 2018
The whole thing looks so extravagant and yet it makes complete sense. We all know how painful it is to board or deplane from an aircraft which has been parked at a remote stand in some far-flung corner of an airport. First, you have to contend with a bus full to the brim with other passengers and then you have to lug your hand luggage up a set of stairs to the aircraft door.
For most passengers, it’s a small inconvenience – perhaps a hot and sweaty one in the middle of summer or a slightly perilous one in the midst of winter when rain or ice can make the steps slippery. But it’s an even bigger deal for passengers with reduced mobility – who have to carefully navigate every step or wait for a high-lift at the aircraft door.
We’re not quite sure how these mobile escalator steps have escaped our notice for so long. After all, King Salman, the Monarch of Saudi Arabia hit the headlines in October 2017 when his personal gold-plated escalator steps came to a grinding halt on a visit to Moscow, Russia. King Salman was left waiting for several moments before deciding to gingerly walk down the stairs.
The escalators are built by a German firm called techünert who say the mobile escalator provides the “greatest possible degree of convenience”. Sadly, it seems like uptake has been relatively limited at the moment. Hopefully, more airports will up their game and start buying these!