Travel can often be challenging for neurodivergent individuals and others with invisible, or visible, disabilities. We often find the busy airport experience and crowds overwhelming.
Sensory overload can make the travel experience very distressing and prevent individuals and families from indulging in their love of travel, going on holiday or travelling for work.
Thankfully, lots of British airports have realised that the airport is a stressful experience for neurodivergent and disabled people and they have come up with ways to make the airport experience easier for individuals and families who want to travel.
We have compiled information about all of the major airports in the UK & Ireland to see what assistance they offer and have asked them to contact us to alert us to any additional services they offer or to correct any errors to ensure that we have the most accurate information possible.
Bristol Airport has a lanyard and card scheme for passengers with hidden disabilities and a guide for passengers with Autism or who are travelling with children who have Autism.
Carlisle Airport will be opening in 2019 and we hope to find out more about their hidden disability facilities when the airport opens.
East Midlands Airport have a lanyard which you can collect at the Pink Passenger Services desk.
Leeds-Bradford Airport operate a lanyard scheme for people with hidden disabilities and have an airport guide for passengers with Autism.
Liverpool Airport offers a ‘Butterfly Flyer’ to help passengers with hidden disabilities through security. They also have a downloadable guide to the airport.
London City Airport operate a lanyard scheme and have a visual guide to getting around the airport.
London Gatwick Airport operate a lanyard scheme for passengers with hidden disabilities, have produced an Autism friendly visual guide for children and are the only airport that we have found in our search that references the anxiety that can be felt by young children with ADHD.
London Heathrow Airport also operate the Sunflower hidden disability lanyard scheme.
London Stanstead Airport also operate the Sunflower hidden disability lanyard scheme and offer free fast track security for travellers with Autism and up to three members of their family as part of their Special Flyer Autism Awareness Scheme.
Luton Airport have a lanyard system in place and you can obtain a lanyard from the airport or wear a sunflower lanyard that you have obtained at another airport or Sainsbury’s store.
An invisible disabilities lanyard is available at Manchester Airport and there are several booklets and videos available that describe a journey through the airport which you can find here.
Newcastle Airport operates a hidden disabilities lanyard scheme, an Autism Passport, a travel advice booklet for parents with Autistic children, an airport journey booklet and an airport activity book for children.
At Southampton Airport you can access a ‘helping hands’ lanyard, they have introduced tactile signs and have a quieter passage.
Dublin Airport will issue an “Important Flyer” lanyard or wristband to passengers with Autism who apply in advance, have travel booked and supply medical evidence.
Disappointingly, there is no other information that we have found online about Dublin airport supporting other travellers with hidden disabilities.
Aberdeen Airport offer familiarisation tours and lanyards for people with hidden disabilities.
They also have an Airport Experience Guide for children and picture slides.
At Edinburgh Airport you can book a pre-visit for individuals with Autism or complex additional needs. You can also access books and a video resource for children by contacting the airport and can download a social story here.
Passengers with additional needs and hidden disabilities can also access a lanyard or pin which can be posted in advance or collected at the airport.
Glasgow Airport can offer pre-visits to the airport and has a visual guide to planning your journey at the airport for people with Autism.
People with hidden disabilities can also get lanyards when they arrive at the airport from the special assistance desk.
Glasgow Prestwick Airport can offer pre-visits, lanyards and have a quiet route to assist passengers throughout their journey.
Cardiff Airport offer familiarisation tours for people with Autism and wristbands for people with hidden disabilities.