Dubai Airports to add autism-friendly measures for travellers with hidden disabilities

Priority lanes at check-in, passport control, security and boarding will be available for all eligible passengers

With glaring fluorescent lights, busy crowds and announcements, airports can be stressful situations for travellers with hidden disabilities. Photo: Dubai Airports
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Travellers with hidden disabilities will now have greater support when journeying through Dubai International Airport.

As part of a new campaign called We all meet the world differently, DXB is introducing a priority route through the airport for people of determination.

Designed to make travelling easier for passengers with hidden disabilities including autism, chronic fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder, the fast-track routes will enable eligible passengers to move faster through check-in, passport control, security and boarding.

Specially trained staff at DXB will wear sunflower pins and lanyards to allow passengers to easily identify them. Photo: Dubai Airports

All passengers wearing sunflower lanyards — an international symbol designed to raise awareness of hidden disabilities — will be able to utilise the route.

The sunflower lanyards will also provide airport workers with a visual cue that a passenger may need extra assistance, additional time or more support while in the terminal.

“Dubai Airports is committed to promoting the inclusion and participation of People of Determination — who, as an integral part of our travelling customer base, deserve the highest level of care and customer service,” said Majed Al Joker, chief operating officer of Dubai Airports.

“We are working to provide the essential services and amenities and are proud to be collaborating with the Dubai Autism Centre and the sector to drive awareness around hidden disabilities. This initiative is only the beginning of what we hope will be a transformative travel experience for all people of determination that travel through our airports.”

Many travellers have hidden disabilities and require extra assistance at airports. Photo: Dane County Regional Airport

With glaring fluorescent lights, busy crowds and non-stop announcements, airports can be stressful situations for travellers with hidden disabilities. To help make DXB more accessible, the airport is also introducing a travel planner that families can use to gain advance information on what to expect when in the terminal.

Specially trained staff will be on hand to support travellers who need extra assistance, and will also wear sunflower pins and lanyards to allow passengers to easily identify them.

Travellers wearing sunflower lanyards will be able to use priority lines at check-in, boarding, security and immigration. Photo: DXB

The move is part of the UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021 for Dubai to become the world’s leading disability-friendly city.

In the second phase of the scheme, the airport will open dedicated quiet rooms for people of determination. It also plans to roll out other solutions, including what it calls "connected airports" and an "airport safari tour".

Globally, one billion people, or around 15 per cent of the world's population, have some form of disability. Many of these are non-visible or hidden and can be physical, mental or neurological in nature.

Last year, Abu Dhabi International Airport introduced two sensory devices designed to help relax children with conditions such as autism.

The airport and Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination opened the pod-style rooms incorporating educational, recreational and therapeutic techniques through an integrated set of sensory experiences.

Updated: December 05, 2022, 1:05 PM