Coinciding with World Autism Acceptance Week, British Airways has announced a partnership with Learning Rose, an organisation that develops support material to make life easier for people with autism. Together they have produced the Visual Guide to Flying, which is designed to help autistic customers prepare for their trip and make them feel as comfortable as possible during their journey.
Each section of the guide, which is endorsed by the UK’s National Autistic Society and can be downloaded from ba.com, describes a different part of the flying experience, .
In addition to the Visual Guide, the partnership also includes colleague training and support and bespoke colleague consultation sessions to ensure the airline’s staff have help on hand to always ensure best practice for assisting flyers with autism.
Learning Rose was founded by Rebecca Taylor, whose son has autism, mitigated echolalia and sensory modulation dysfunction. Taylor previously worked at British Airways as a cabin crew member, before founding Learning Rose to help others gain a better understanding of autism through designing support materials to enhance the lives of those with autism and other disabilities.
“I know from both my experience working as cabin crew and from travelling with my son that flying can sometimes be overwhelming for people with autism, so I am delighted to be working with British Airways to help ease any travel anxieties that people with autism may face,” stated Taylor.
Customers can liaise with the airline’s specialist accessibility team to ensure their journey is as straightforward and stress-free as possible. The dedicated customer care team can discuss and arrange appropriate assistance for each individual, whether assistance through the airport and on board, pre-allocation of seats, or updating a booking to ensure cabin and ground crew are aware of any support that customers may require.
Customers also have the option to add any requirements to their booking in advance of travelling through the ‘Manage My Booking‘ tool on ba.com, and there are dedicated check-in areas at London Heathrow Airport for those requiring additional assistance.
Calum Laming, chief customer officer at British Airways said: “At British Airways we welcome more than half a million customers who require special assistance each year and we’re fully committed to making sure our service is accessible to all. We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for customers with visible and non-visible disabilities. Our partnership with Learning Rose is just one of the many initiatives we have in place to make flying as stress-free as possible and we’re looking forward to further strengthening and enhancing our partnership going forward.”
This is the latest autism initiative by British Airways, which was the first UK airline to be awarded the Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society, and the first to formally recognise the sunflower lanyard scheme, partnering with Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.
British Airways was also the first UK carrier to embed British Sign Language (BSL) in its customer engagement centres by partnering with Sign Live and most recently, it started working with Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People to further enhance accessibility support for its customers.
The airline’s airport staff can also help customers with additional accessibility requirements through its ‘Beyond Accessibility’ training programme and digital learning resources, providing information about non-visible disabilities and practical advice on how to support customers at each stage of their journey. BA also has a dedicated team of accessibility experts available to assist with customer enquiries.