Air travel can be a difficult endeavor for kids on the autism spectrum. Whether trying to take your family across the country or around the globe, air travel can be a major source of stress for families. Luckily, many airlines have taken initiatives to make the overall flight experience comfortable and pleasant for children with special needs. Here are the best ones we found.
Jet Blue Airlines
The U.S. based airline offers several features to not only help with the in-flight experience but the whole process in the airport as well. Jet Blue started the Wings for Autism program, which allows families to go to the airport for what is essentially a rehearsal of the travel day. Staff guide families through the check-in process, going through security, and the boarding process in order to make sure everyone is prepared. You can also book an extra seat for additional room as needed for no extra charge. On the day of the flight, you can board early in order to get settled and fully prepared for the flight.
This airline makes this list due to having a very unique feature: a flying nanny! If you book and submit the proper medical documents 14 days in advance, you can book an in-flight nanny to help you board the plane and entertain your children with arts and crafts, face paint, and magic tricks. Also featured on board is a large selection of movies and TV shows, and a large selection of food for special diets.
This airline has adopted the Wings for Autism program created by Jet Blue, allowing families to be fully prepared and comfortable when the travel day arrives. During the actual flight, tablets that are preloaded with movies and games are available for rent in the event passengers forget to pack their own. You also have the option of pre-booking your meals to ensure your child’s dietary needs will be met. In addition, there is no extra cost for taking car seats or strollers with you, as long as they are checked with your luggage.
All Nippon Airways
Much like Alaska Air and Jet Blue, All Nippon Airways (ANA) allows parents and children to walk through their airport experience prior to making their actual trip with their Autism Flight Experience program (AFE). At AFE, parents and children get to know about a program that allows kids with autism to wear special stickers that identify to staff their special needs. The in-flight features include meals for special diets, fun toys to play with, and noise canceling headphones.