British Airways first in UK awarded Autism Friendly Award

White British Airways airplane taking off runway

If the thought of travelling with autistic twins seems too much, British Airways may have just made things a little easier for you! In 2023, British Airways became the first UK airline to be awarded the National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award. So what does that mean?

Autism Friendly Award

The Autism Friendly Award from the National Autistic Society is a significant recognition for organisations striving to create inclusive and supportive environments for autistic people. By meeting the award’s criteria, these organizations demonstrate their commitment to accessibility, staff training, effective communication, enhanced customer experiences, and continuous improvement. For the autistic community, this award signifies places where they can feel understood, respected, and welcomed.

Choosing British Airways

Once you’ve decided to travel with British Airways, there are lots of things you can do to help make your trip more enjoyable for autistic twins. Let the airline know about special needs requests at least 48 hours before your flight so they have enough time to get things ready for you. You might also want to create a social story or visual schedule to help break down each step of the travel process, from arriving at the airport to boarding the plane and landing at your destination.

At the airport

When you get to the airport, head straight to the British Airways Special Assistance desk. The staff there are helpful and will guide you through the check-in process. They can also assist with getting through security and onto the plane. Some airports have sensory rooms or quiet areas, perfect for relaxing before your flight. These spaces are designed for travelers with sensory sensitivities. When booking your flight, be sure to check if your airport offers these facilities.

Don’t forget to ask about Fast Track security, so you can skip the waiting and get through quicker. This can really help cut down on anxiety and make things smoother. This should also include assistance through customs or immigration too for international flights.

On the plane

Sometimes airlines will have you board first, or last. They may even ask you for your preference. That way you can get settled in the way that works best for you. Bring along your twins’ favourite comfort items, like noise-canceling headphones, toys, or a tablet with games and movies. The cabin crew are trained to help passengers with special needs, so don’t be shy about asking for any specific help.

British Airways offers a variety of meal options, including those for special dietary needs. If your twins specific food preferences or sensitivities, request your meal ahead of time. Don’t forget to pack some favourite snacks and gummies or sweets to help you get through take-off and landing.

Tips for a smooth journey

Bring communication cards or whatever else helps your twins express their needs. Your flight crew should be familiar with these cards. You might also use visual aids, like apps on a tablet, to help your twins understand what’s happening and what’s coming next.

Don’t forget to let the cabin crew know about any specific needs or behaviours that might come up during the flight. Your twins may not want to move, or they may want to wander around. They may be quiet or they may make nosies. Your flight crew are trained to handle a variety of situations and will help make your journey as comfortable as possible.

Get ready to go!

Traveling with an autistic twins can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a bit of preparation and the supportive services from British Airways, your trip can be smooth and enjoyable. Use their special assistance services, prepare in advance, and bring along tools like social stories and visual aids to help.

Have you travelled with British Airways? Share your comments and stories below.