Emirates hosted "flight rehearsal" for passengers with special needs

Emirates hosted "flight rehearsal" for passengers with special needs

Initiative underlines airline’s commitment to autism awareness and accessible travel

Emirates invited 30 UAE families with neurodiverse children to have a real check-in experience and familiarisation flight on the 24 April at DXB’s Terminal 3.

The initiative was designed to help the children practise and alleviate anxieties before travelling, as well as providing an opportunity for Emirates to garner insights for improving accessible travel.

Emirates hosted Her Excellency Hessa BuHumaid, director general of the Community Development Authority of Dubai, as well as 30 neurodiverse children aged between eight and 12 years old, including Autism and Angelman Syndrome sufferers, and their caregivers.

The group used the Autism Friendly Route through Dubai International Airport, which includes access to priority lanes for check-in, passport control, security and boarding. 

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Specially trained Emirates check-in staff and cabin crew were on hand to support throughout the journey. EK2605 departed DXB at 11:20am and landed again at 12:20pm, giving children a real-life experience of a flight including inflight service, announcements from the cabin crew and the captain and the sounds and sights of a real take-off and landing.

According to a study by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), only 13% of families with neurodiverse children surveyed take family vacations because they cite the experience of the airport and flight as too triggering for the children’s sensory sensitivities. However, 93% of families surveyed said they would take more trips if there were more autism-certified options available and support in place. 

More than 29,000 cabin crew and ground staff globally have completed Emirates ‘Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities’ training. 

The online course was first launched in 2022 and covers a range of topics from the UAE National Policy for People of Determination, recognising 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.

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