Emirates has rolled out specialised training to more than 24,000 global cabin crew and ground staff in its concerted efforts to further enhance support services for travellers with hidden disabilities, including autism.
The airline also collaborated with Dubai Airport on a useful travel planner and autism-friendly route to make the pre-boarding experience more seamless, and implemented additional thoughtful measures to ensure passenger comfort onboard.
Emirates’ online training course, Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities, was first launched in 2022 and covers a range of topics from the UAE National Policy for People of Determination, recognising autism, providing 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.
As a spectrum disorder, autism includes wide variations in the types and severity of symptoms people experience, with a range of sensory needs that may occur. This is why Emirates is striving to facilitate planned and positive travel experiences for passengers with autism.
Some pre-flight options include providing as much information in advance as possible, so that families can plan, rehearse, and be reassured about their upcoming travel; free seat selection and bulkhead seat for autistic passengers and companions; booking with DPNA code for extra support; pre-ordering special meals on onboard; and curating the entertainment playlist beforehand.
Other support by Emirates include provision of a special lanyard to identify passengers with hidden disabilities, an Autism Friendly Route through Dubai International Airport, and priority boarding or boarding last, noise-cancelling earphones for those with an aural sensory need, light sensitivity preferences, and activity packs for the younger passengers.
Those with hidden disabilities will also be seated beside their companion or guardian.