Emirates says that more than 24,000 cabin staff and ground crew globally have now completed specialised training to support travellers with hidden conditions such as autism.
The airline launched its ‘Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities’ course last year, with the online modules covering a range of topics to make air travel easier for disabled passengers. Subjects covered include how to recognise autism, practical tips on how to assist passengers with hidden disabilities, responding with empathy, and information on the official support systems to help passengers in the airport.
Autism is known as a ‘spectrum disorder’ as it can present in a variety of ways, meaning it can be difficult to identify unless staff know the signs to look out for.
For some travellers, the airport and aircraft experience may feel too noisy, too bright, too unfamiliar or too busy. As a result, Emirates has worked to make the travel experiences for customers with autism as stress-free as possible.
Before the journey begins, passengers can access a wealth of information to plan and rehearse their journeys, with free seat selection, menu selection and onboard entertainment planning all available. When booking, passengers can request a DPNA code, common in the airline industry, which lets carriers know guests require special support.
At Dubai International Airport, Emirates offers two hours’ complimentary parking and the globally recognised ‘Sunflower’ lanyard to those with autism. Those wearing the lanyard can access a quick ‘autism-friendly route’ through check-in and security accompanied by specially trained staff.
Meanwhile, on board, Emirates offers a range of facilities for families with autism, including colouring books, noise-cancelling headphones and the ability to dim lighting to reduce sensory overload.
All of Emirates’ provisions for those with autism can be accessed via the airline’s app, while a guide to accessible travel at Dubai International Airport is available on the carrier’s website.