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23 3.1 Customer Experience In focus groups conducted as part of this research project, nearly all participants indicated that pretrip planning is a crucial aspect of a successful travel experience. Immediately after booking their flight, travelers begin to plan for the day of travel, looking at how early they need to arrive at the airport, which terminal their airline flies from, and the distance from Security to gate areas. For those planning to drive, other issues to research are where to park and how to reach the terminal, especially if they need assistance. When asked to elaborate on what else they were looking for, focus group participants indicated that it would be helpful to have a virtual tour or a Google map-like resource, in addition to typical terminal maps. Another important aspect of pretrip planning is identifying the accessible transportation options at the destination, where their pickup zones are located, and whether help with mobility or luggage is available to reach those locations. This planning process is made more complicated by the trendâat some major airportsâto decongest terminal roadways by moving not only rideshare companies but also hotel shuttles, rental car companies, and taxis to more remote loca- tions. At one East Coast airport, even valet parking is now an air train ride away from terminals. Travelers are also looking for airport facilities and services that can meet their specific needs, including curbside check-in, companion restrooms, SARAs, and quiet areas. If assistance is required, when, where, and how can one access it? Finding detailed information readily avail- able on an airport website or app can help to reduce pretrip anxiety, especially for those who have had problems in the past, fly infrequently, or have never flown. Research from the United States, Canada, and the UK has shown that people with disabilities fly less often than the general public and are not well informed about regulatory requirements or how they will be accommodated. This fuels anxiety and may, in part, account for the high number of ad hoc service requests (i.e., requests made only on the day of travel), in both the U.S. and Europe. A 2017 air travel survey by the Muscular Dystrophy Association found that two-thirds of the 2,000-plus members who responded had never heard of the Air Carrier Access Act before taking the survey (Muscular Dystrophy Association 2017). Airport and airline websites can play an important role in bridging this information gap and are being encouraged to do so by both civil aviation authorities and international organizations like ACI and ICAO. Print materials or other messaging at the airport, as shown in Figure 3-1, can also help educate individuals who may not use the Internet so that they are better prepared for their next trip. When the airportâs website cannot answer a question, travelers would also like a contact person at the airport or airline to phone or communicate with via text, whether through chat lines, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, or other social media. C H A P T E R 3 Pretrip Planning
24 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities All of the above assume that the content on these websites or apps is accessible to individuals with hearing or vision loss, intellectual disabilities, or the inability to hold a mouse to navigate a website. 3.2 Access to Information: Web and Mobile Web 3.2.1 Accessibility While ADA regulations that mandate a specific accessibility standard are still pending for Title II (state and local government) entities, ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that these jurisdictions provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services, or activities unless doing so would fundamentally alter their nature or impose an undue burden. One way to help meet these requirements is to ensure that websites have accessible features for people with disabilities. FAA âAdvisory Circular 150/5360-14A: Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilitiesâ states in âSection 2.6 Communicationsâ that âairports are required to take appropriate steps to ensure that their communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as commu- nications with other individuals, beneficiaries, and members of the publicâ (Federal Aviation Administration 2017). With regard to what standard of accessibility to follow, the current consensus in the United States is to conform at a minimum to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, since it is the standard mandated for airline websites under the Air Carrier Access Act and for the federal government under Section 508. A newer standard, WCAG 2.1 (released in June 2018) adds guidelines to WCAG 2.0 to improve accessibility of mobile websites and for people with cognitive disabilities [World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) 2018]. In August 2018, WCAG 2.1 became the harmonized accessibility standard for information and communications technology products and services in Europe and, later that year, became Figure 3-1. Print brochures (left) and message on an electric cart (right) at London Gatwick Airport.
Pretrip Planning 25 part of a legal settlement in Alameda, California, with regard to accessibility for voters who are blind (Feingold 2018). Because many people with disabilities use only mobile devices, which play a critical role during travel, it makes sense when designing or updating websites to follow WCAG 2.1 recommendations. Testing of website usability by persons with disabilities, required for airline websites under the Air Carrier Access Act, is also a critical step in ensuring that the resulting product actually functions as intended. Refer to ACRP Research Report 177, Chapter 8, for additional details and analysis on the accessibility of airport websites (Harding et al. 2017). 3.2.2 Content In addition to the standard website content that benefits all members of the traveling public, individuals with disabilities need to be assured that their specific needs can be met while traveling to, from, and at the various airports they use during their journey. The more detailed and specific the information, the better. 22.214.171.124 Guidance on Website Content In its Manual on Access to Air Transport by Persons with Disabilities, the ICAO includes the following list of 14 pieces of information that should be included on airport and airline websites: â¢ Hours of operation; â¢ Location of designated parking areas; â¢ Location of drop-off and pickup areas; â¢ Telephone numbers for accessibility information; â¢ Wheelchair or electric cart services; â¢ Location of relieving areas for service animals; â¢ Accessible interterminal transportation; â¢ Accessible ground transportation; â¢ Passes for nontraveling companions; â¢ Complaint resolution services; â¢ Advance notice requirements; â¢ Check-in and flight departure times; â¢ Requirements for the carriage of mobility aids (e.g., size); and â¢ Types of services available at the airport and in flight, including available boarding equipment. The ICAO manual also recommends that the websites describe what means are available to facilitate communication with travelers with cognitive and sensory disabilities and that disability- related information be integrated into general product literature and advertising (ICAO 2013). In 2014, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) notified airlines and airports that by yearâs end they must meet new requirements for online disability information, noting that âWhen we reviewed airlinesâ and airportsâ websites, we found this was not always easy to find and often unclear and lacking in detailâ (Castiglioni 2014). In addition to mandating lists similar to ICAOâs, the CAA specified that âinformation should be on a single webpage one click away from the home webpageâ and given a consistent hyperlink of âSpecial Assistance or Similarâ with, possibly, a relevant pictogram such as the international symbol of access (ISA). For airports, the CAA also called for three additional types of information not on the ICAO list: 1. Layout of the airport, including walking distances; 2. Performance standards for assistance; and 3. Airport Security arrangements for people with disabilities.
26 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities As a result of the CAA requirements, travelers with disabilities can now go to any UK airport website and easily find the detailed information they need. London Gatwick Airportâs website features a diagram showing distances from arrival points to assistance reception, check-in, Security, departure lounge assistance, and gates (Figure 3-2). The concerns expressed by the UK CAA about airport and airline websites apply to air- ports and airlines in the U.S., as well. In the U.S., there is no consistent labeling or location of disability-related information, and the quantity and quality of content varies widely. Aside from requiring airlines to âprovide a mechanism . . . to request disability accommodation services for future flights, including but not limited to wheelchair assistance, seating accommodation, escort assistance for a visually impaired passenger, and stowage of an assistive device,â the 2013 Air Carrier Access Act Final Rule on website accessibility includes no other provisions with regard to content (U.S. Department of Transportation 2013). Under Title II of the ADA, airports are required to post a notice of nondiscrimination and complaint procedures (28 CFR Part 35.106 and 107), but otherwise the FAA provides no oversight or guidance on website content. 126.96.36.199 Best Practices: Location and Organization Almost all of the websites of airports selected as case studies for this project post detailed accessibility information one click away from the home page. HartsfieldâJackson Atlanta, CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky, Los Angeles, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Phoenix Sky Harbor include an ISA symbol or the word âAccessibilityâ in their website header, making this link immediately perceptible without scrolling or looking through other drop-down menus. Locating it in the header also puts this topic just one click away from every page on the site. The Los Angeles homepage is shown in Figure 3-3. Figure 3-2. London Gatwick Airport South Terminal walking times and distances (Source: London Gatwick Airport).
Pretrip Planning 27 Another best practice is to organize accessibility content by disability type, which helps to dispel the belief that assistance services are just for PRMs. Examples include Los Angeles Inter- national Airport, which provides links to a wide variety of useful resources, as well as details on its own programs for specific disabilities, and SeattleâTacoma International Airport, which launched a new website in 2018 (Figure 3-4). 188.8.131.52 Best Practices: General and Reduced Mobility Following are specific types of information beneficial to all travelers with disabilities that a growing number of airports now include online: â¢ Hours of operation; â¢ Links to TSA disability-related information and videos, as well as contact information for TSA Cares; â¢ Links to airline accessibility pages and phone numbers; â¢ Links to federal regulations, including ADA and the Air Carrier Access Act; â¢ Exact locations of disability-related amenities and other services (e.g., by listing the nearest gate, as in the case of DallasâFort Worth International Airport); â¢ Walk times from curbs to check-in or from Security to gates; â¢ Contact information for service providers at the airport and, if more than one, the airline they work for; and â¢ How to get assistance on arrival from ground transportation (e.g., curbside, parking, or other drop-off point). 184.108.40.206 Best Practices: Vision Loss Airport websites can also help travelers who are blind by providing text maps (i.e., descrip- tions of the information contained in the airport visual maps). Section 3.3.3 in ACRP Research Figure 3-3. Los Angeles International Airport homepage with ISA pictogram in header (Source: Los Angeles World Airports).
28 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Report 177 describes text map principles and provides an example from AustinâBergstrom International Airport (Harding et al. 2017). CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky created 10 termi- nal videos captioned for people with hearing loss and then provided the captions as a separate page of âStep-by-Step Directionsâ accessible by a screen reader (Figure 3-5). This is a universal design solution since the captions use plain language to simplify understanding for individuals with learning disabilities or for whom English is a second language. Portland International Airport has created a series of 14 virtual tours with closed caption- ing to familiarize passengers with terminals, parking, and ground transportation. Taking a different approach, Vancouver International Airport offers passenger guides customized to each travelerâs specific journey with specific step-by-step directions written in plain language. London Heathrow also provides detailed travel guides in each terminal, geared specifically toward arriving and departing travelers with disabilities. Some airports, such as Los Angeles, which are members of the Aira Airport Access Network described in Chapter 2, include details on their websites to inform travelers with vision loss about the availability of free minutes and how to access the service. 220.127.116.11 Best Practices: Hearing Loss Travelers with hearing loss benefit from access to as much information as possible prior to the trip, thereby reducing their need for face-to-face communication in the noisy airport setting. Figure 3-4. Screenshot of accessibility categories on SeattleâTacoma International Airport website (Source: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport).
Pretrip Planning 29 This includes not only basic information for the general public but also availability and location of any assistive technologies at the airport, should they be needed on the day of travel: â¢ Visual paging; â¢ Video remote interpreting (VRI); â¢ Video payphones; â¢ TTYs, especially if pay phones are no longer provided and these have been moved to informa- tion booths, as at San Francisco International Airport; and â¢ Hearing loops, also known as induction loops. MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airportâs website features a page dedicated to visual paging messages, enabling travelers to check for pages not only at flight information displays (FIDs) but also on their mobile devices. A screen at the airport information counters also carries current visual pages. Videos posted on websites or on YouTube should be captioned so that no one misses the message. YouTube provides a free auto-captioning service that uses speech-recognition tech- nology. London Heathrow has gone a step further with their âAssistance at Heathrowâ video, offering alternative versions with audio description, subtitles, and international sign language. 18.104.22.168 Best Practices: Cognitive Disabilities Autism awareness is on the rise at airports in the U.S. and elsewhere, with many now provid- ing social stories and familiarization programs. These social stories or storybooks make the air travel process more predictable by showing and by describing the steps in the process and what to expect and do at each step. This can help reduce stress and lead to better ways of coping. Airports are also beginning to provide amenitiesâsuch as quiet rooms and routes and sensory roomsâto give these travelers a break from the busy, noisy, and crowded airport environment. Figure 3-5. Screenshot of CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky International Airport terminal videos and step-by-step directions (Source: CincinnatiâNorthern Kentucky Airport).
30 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities These options are discussed in later chapters. Many of the same features benefit travelers with dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Use of plain language that is clear and easy to understand is also important. In guidance to airports on hidden disabilities, the UK CAA recommends that âairports should use videos, photos and pictures of airport processes, where possible. This will aid with familiarization of the overall airport environment and may help ease anxiety and stress for the person before they travel.â They also suggest that guides provided online be downloadable or available as hard copies at the airport (Civil Aviation Authority 2016a). Vancouver International Airport (YVR) partnered with Canucks Autism Network (CAN) to develop an autism resource kit and video series that includes â¢ YVR Autism Access Sticker: Placed on boarding pass for expedited assistance and Security and to self-identify to other frontline staff (available at Customer Cares pre-Security or from airline at check-in); â¢ âI CAN Fly with YVRâ video series: Ten short videos for each step in the journey, from arriving at the airport to deplaning and collecting baggage; â¢ Step-by-Step Storybook (downloadable); â¢ Step-by-Step Checklist (downloadable); and â¢ Airport map: Simplified graphics show the key touchpoints for international and domestic arrivals and departures (downloadable). On the day of travel, families can pick up a childâs backpack (Figure 3-6) that includes printed copies of the storybook, the checklist, and the airport map to use during the trip. Other Canadian airports offer online autism resources. Kelowna International Airport has partnered with Vancouver International Airport and Canucks Autism Network to provide a rebranded kit. Halifax Stanfield International Airportâs Autism Aviators program, created by Autism Nova Scotia, also includes a downloadable key ring tag and a lanyard card with checklist steps and tools for communication. Figure 3-6. Page from YVR storybook (left) and the YVR Autism Resource Kit backpack (right).
Pretrip Planning 31 U.S. airports that post social stories include Portlandâthe first to do soâand Minneapolisâ Saint Paul (MSP), whose Navigating MSP social guide is also available as a free app from Infini- teach. Each of these airports also offers familiarization programs, described in Section 3.6. Following UK CAA guidance, a number of airportsâincluding Birmingham, Edinburgh, and London Gatwickâoffer downloadable guides for travelers with autism and promote the availability of lanyards, wristbands, pins, or stickers to enable travelers to easily self- identify as having autism, dementia, or other hidden disabilities. Gatwickâs sunflower lanyard (Figure 3-7) is gaining general acceptance, although other colors and patterns are available. The latest airport to adopt the lanyard is Cork, the first in the Republic of Ireland to do so. 22.214.171.124 Best Practices: Foreign Language or Limited English Proficiency In addition to the use of plain language, airports can also make communication easier for foreign travelers or those who have limited English proficiency by including a Google Translate button on their website. Few U.S. airports have this feature, although some do offer more limited language selection. Clicking the âSelect Languageâ button on the SeattleâTacoma International Airport website activates a drop-down menu with more than 100 languages (Figure 3-8). Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, airports are obligated to accommodate the needs of individuals who have limited English proficiency, and this is one way to address that goal. Another way is to provide a remote language interpretation serviceâsuch as Language Lineâat call centers and information desks. The same service can provide video remote interpreting. 3.3 Access to Information: Mobile Applications Airlines and airports across the world have developed or are developing mobile applications. According to the SITA Air Transport IT Insights 2018 report, roughly 90 percent of airlines have apps for passenger mobile services (up from 80 percent in 2017). Approximately 52 percent of Figure 3-7. Sunflower lanyard and pin for hidden disability (left) and a child with a lanyard and noise cancelling headphones at London Gatwick International Airport (right).
32 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities airports currently have a mobile app (up from 39 percent in 2017), and 85 percent of airports plan to have a live app by 2021 (SITA 2018). Given the competition from airline and other appsâsuch as GateGuru and Flight Track5âthat offer the majority of the same features as the most advanced airport apps, many U.S. airports have not made the financial commitment to build their own. Of the 13 American airports that participated as case studies in this research, only four currently have a mobile app: Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International, Miami International, Orlando International, and SeattleâTacoma International. According to a study by Corrigan and Lenahan, airline apps are downloaded 14 times more often than airport apps, and the rate of retention is low (Corrigan and Lenahan 2016). This is not surprising sinceâfrom the customerâs perspectiveâit makes sense to download one app that covers all the airports on the itinerary for current and future trips. However, for airports that decide to develop their own mobile app, it is important that they consider the accessibility and information needs of their customers with disabilities. 3.3.1 Accessibility Mobile apps are generally covered by the same accessibility standards that apply to nonmobile software and web applications. While there are no separate guidelines for mobile accessibility, they are covered to some degree in existing W3C WAI accessibility standards, particularly in the latest version: WCAG 2.1. There is also additional guidance on the W3C website, including Mobile Accessibility: How WCAG 2.0 and Other W3C/WAI Guidelines Apply to Mobile (World Wide Web Consortium 2015). ACRP Research Report 177 Section 8.3 âMobile Wayfinding Applicationsâ provides mobile application developers with a set of principles and checklists to improve utility and usabil- ity for all travelers (Harding et al. 2017). As discussed in that section, none of the airport Figure 3-8. Google Translate language list on SeattleâTacoma International Airport website (Source: SeattleâTacoma International Airport).
Pretrip Planning 33 wayfinding apps tested by the research team proved to be usable by people with a wide range of physical, sensory, and cognitive abilities. While outside the scope of this current research, it appears that this is still the case. More specifically, there is still no airport or airline app designed for the general public that works equally well for individuals who are blind. Instead, Aira is now helping to bridge that gap. However, there have been significant advances made in wayfinding apps specifically for people with vision loss, including through FAA research efforts in conjunc- tion with airports such as MinneapolisâSaint Paul. Already available at Pittsburgh International Airport is an app called NavCog developed by Carnegie Mellon University. 3.3.2 Content In addition to wayfinding and information on shops, restaurants, and amenities, airport apps include features especially convenient for travelers with disabilities. â¢ Designed by LocusLabs, the DallasâFort Worth International Airport app allows users to prepay parking at a discount and to order ahead to pick up food quickly from a variety of restaurants. The app is also available in six languages and on the Apple Watch. â¢ In addition to real-time updates on parking availability, Security wait times, gate changes, and flight arrival and departure times, the HartsfieldâJackson Atlanta International Airport app allows travelers to reserve and pay for parking. It also includes a photo feature that enables users to capture the location of their car and then be directed to it on return. An airport ADA button that links to all of the airportâs accessibility information is featured prominently on the home screen. â¢ The Miami International Airport (MIA) app has a âTalk to MIAâ feature that transforms speech to text for hands-free communication with airport personnel. The app allows travel- ers to track a flight by scanning a boarding pass, a feature also available on the Vancouver International Airport app. â¢ The London Heathrow app allows users to opt in for push notifications on flight status, air- port alerts, and other information. It also has a scan pass feature and the ability to book parking. While there is substantial detail for passengers with disabilities, they cannot request assistance or communicate directly with the airportâs service provider. Airlines are also developing mobile apps with details on their programs and services, as well as maps and information for the airports they serve. The following are some airline apps with innovative features: â¢ The American Airlines app has a track-your-bags component that allows checked itemsâ including wheelchairs and other mobility aidsâto be tracked. The traveler can see whether the item has been loaded and has arrived at the destination. â¢ Delta and United worked with LocusLabs to create airport maps with wayfinding features for each airport they serve. The maps allow users to input their starting point and destina- tion and then get turn-by-turn directions and estimated walking times. However, wayfinding is not currently compatible with screen readers. â¢ The most exciting new feature of the United app is the âWheelchair Request Serviceâ that allows travelers to ask for wheelchair service upon arrival at the airport, alert the service provider that they have arrived, and manage an existing request. This feature is currently available only for passengers departing Las Vegas McCarran International Airport or Los Angeles. The request must be made prior to arriving at Security. The app also includes phone numbers for Unitedâs 24-hour Accessibility Desk, which are not listed on their website. Two mobile applications have been designed specifically to help people with autism manage air travel, created in partnership with airports looking to provide this service to their customers (Figure 3-9.) â¢ Navigating MSP by Infiniteach is a social guide to MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport that includes videos, text, and spoken instructions for each step in the travel process,
34 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities beginning with pretrip preparation and ending after baggage claim. Based in Chicago, Infini- teach also creates social guides for museums, zoos, sports arenas, and other places of public accommodation. â¢ Magnus Cards are now available for Toronto Pearson International, Winnipeg James Arm- strong Richardson International, Las Vegas McCarran International, and San Francisco Inter- national airports. The five McCarran âcard decksâ provide photos and step-by-step text and spoken instructions for check-in, Security screening, restroom visits, airplane boarding, and baggage claim. These can be used online or downloaded. 3.4 Access to Information: Interactive Communication Whether frontline staff interact with customers in person or remotely, it is important that they are trained in how to communicate appropriately and effectively with travelers with various disabilities. The person-first language preferred by the disability communityâlanguage that acknowledges the individual before referring to their disability, such as âa man who is blindâ rather than âa blind manââis used throughout this report. Similarly, it is inappropri- ate to refer to âthe blindâ or âthe deaf.â For a discussion of appropriate language and terms to avoid, such as âhandicappedâ or âwheelchair bound,â please see Section 2.9 in ACRP Research Report 177 (Harding et al. 2017). 3.4.1 Customer ServiceâCall Centers While there is nothing particularly innovative about call centers, they do serve an important function for persons with disabilities or older individuals who do not use the Internet or who cannot find what they need online. Some airports, including Los Angeles International, provide not just phone numbers on their websites but also email and comment forms. The airport even Figure 3-9. Screenshots of autism apps: Navigate MSP (left) and McCarran International Airport MagnusCards (right) (Sources: Infiniteach and MagnusCards).
Pretrip Planning 35 provides a form specifically for travelers with disabilities. Offering even more convenience, Denver International Airport also provides a phone number for those who prefer to text. In addition to receiving awareness and communication training, call center staff should have an accessibility database at their fingertips to quickly and accurately respond to disability-related queries. This would include any current data on elevator outages or rerouting due to construction. 3.4.2 Live Chat Availability of live chat on websites or mobile apps is a relatively new feature for airports and airlines. MinneapolisâSaint Paul and Denver International are the first airports to offer this service in the United States (Figure 3-10). Airlines currently offering live chat include Hawaiian, Emirates, Ryanair, and easyJet. Taking a different approach, Delta installed five video and text chat kiosks at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport under a pilot program that has since ended. 3.4.3 Social Media Social media is especially important during irregular operations and in emergency situations at airports. While there is no literature on how airports use social media to support or interact with passengers with disabilities, many individuals with disabilities actively use social media and appre- ciate the easy, direct communication offered by Facebook and Twitter, both pretrip and while traveling. In addition to communicating with customers, airports also use social media to keep travelers abreast of the status of ongoing airport projects and changes that may affect their travel routines on the way to or at the airport, as well as to promote new facilities and services. For exam- ple, in January 2010 Chicago OâHare International Airport posted photos of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth visiting the new adult changing room and accessible shower that had just opened. Figure 3-10. Live chat screen on Denver International Airport website (Source: Denver International Airport).
36 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities 3.5 Prebooked Services The ability to prebook services benefits all travelers but especially older adults and individuals with disabilities who have additional needs and possibly more anxiety about their trip. Having services arranged and paid in advance can reduce stress on the day of travel. 3.5.1 Parking In addition to saving time in locating a parking spot, reserving and paying for parking in advance also may provide significant discounts. 3.5.2 Valet Parking A growing number of airports now offer valet parking, a convenience for any air traveler but especially helpful to those who need help managing baggage or other assistance, since those services are typically available only curbside. At Portland International Airport, valet staff will call for a wheelchair to meet the passenger. 3.5.3 Concierge or VIP Services For customers who can afford a higher level of service, a growing variety of concierge or VIP services are available. Someâlike MUrgency and Perq Soleil (Figure 3-11)âalso cater to indi- viduals who need wheelchair assistance; others, such as Airport Butler, will not accommodate those who are not independently mobile. These options may be particularly attractive to older customers traveling alone or to their adult children who cannot travel with them but would like the assurance that their parents are assisted throughout the travel process. Departing clients are Figure 3-11. Perq Soleil offerings: VIP, Senior Traveler, Family and Unaccompanied Minor, and Medical Concierge (Source: Perq Soleil website, with permission).
Pretrip Planning 37 greeted curbside or at another arrival point of their choice, helping to bridge that initial gap in service prior to check-in. Arriving and connecting passengers are met at the gate. Alone among North American airlines, Air Canada offers a complimentary âUnaccom- panied Adultâ service with âpositive handoffâ for older travelers with cognitive limitations. Instead of creating a fee-based Unaccompanied Adult program like the one previously offered by Northwest Airlines, United Airlines recently partnered with Global Airport Concierge to create âSignature Service.â This paid service is available to any passenger, including those who have requested a sighted guide, cognitive assistance, or wheelchair assistance and offers the same advantages as the other concierge services previously described. 3.5.4 Security Appointments In 2017, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol tested a system of reservations to determine whether it could reduce waiting times at Security. This paid serviceâcalled âFast Track Securityâ or âPriority Securityââis now an option at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland, Bristol Airport in England, and London Heathrow, booked via their websites. While the general public cannot book appointments at U.S. Security checkpoints, the TSA Cares program will arrange for travelers with disabilities or a medical condition to meet a passenger support specialist or other TSA staff member at a specific date and time to be escorted through Security. This service requires 72-hour advance notice. 3.5.5 Remote Baggage Check-in and Delivery Services that allow people to have their luggage picked up for delivery to the plane and even right to their home, hotel, or office on arrival are becoming more common and are helping to take the physical effort out of travel. McCarran International Airport, which first introduced remote check-in and bag drop at five locations, now offers the service at nine locations. Based in Orlando, the industry leader worldwide is Bags, Inc., which partners with airlines, cruise lines, resorts, hotels, convention centers, and even a shopping mall near Chicago OâHare. Bags VIP handles deliveries at the other end of the trip, collecting luggage right from baggage claim if the airline is a partner. In London, AirPortr will now check in and pick up luggage from a private address, no kiosk needed. They also have facilities at London Heathrow and London Gatwick, where passengers can drop off their luggage for delivery within a 100-mile radius. 3.6 Familiarization Programs Familiarization or rehearsal programs allow people with disabilities the opportunity to experience the airport in preparation for future air travel. These programs (Figure 3-12) most commonly focus on children or young adults with autism or other intellectual disabilities and their families but may also be created by rehabilitation centers for patients learning to cope with new physical disabilities, working in partnership with an airport and airline. One of the earliest disability âfamâ programs involved HartsfieldâJackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines, and the Shepherd Centerâa hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. There are also fams for service animals. Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey holds an annual program in conjunction with Seeing Eye, a local nonprofit organization, to help them to train their guide dogs. Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania has a similar program for Susquehanna Service Dogs. At MinneapolisâSaint Paul, dogs in training
38 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities from Can Do Canines are welcomed monthly through Security and onto the airport concourses but practice their inflight skills in a mock airplane to minimize logistical arrangements. The most well-known program, Wings for Autism/Wings for All, is an initiative of The Arc, a non-profit organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their rehearsal programs, first held in 2011 at Boston Logan, take place at airports all over the country through partnerships with the local chapter of The Arc. From 2014 to 2018, Wings for Autism/ Wings for All held 130 events in almost 60 U.S. airports. Like other programs, they take partici- pants right through Security and onto a plane, practicing social skills at each step in the process. The following airports, among others, have created their own autism programs: â¢ Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport: âOn Board With Autismâ is offered in partner- ship with Autism Alliance of Michigan and Delta Air Lines. â¢ MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport: âNavigating MSP,â offered monthly in part- nership with Fraser (a provider of autism and mental health services), the Autism Society of Minnesota, and Delta Air Lines, now welcomes people with all types of disabilities. â¢ Philadelphia International Airport: âAutism Access Program,â in partnership with Autism Inclusion Resources, LLC, includes pre-event training for frontline staff and TSA. â¢ Greater Rochester International Airport: âROC Your Flightâ is offered in partnership with The Arc and TSA. â¢ Halifax Stanfield International Airport: âAutism Aviatorsâ is offered in partnership with Autism Nova Scotia. Airlines also sponsor programs, including JetBlueâs âBlue Horizonâ and Americanâs âItâs Cool to Fly AA.â Challenge Air, a nonprofit based in Dallas, Texas, takes the rehearsal program a step further by including a 30-minute flight where participants each get a turn in the cockpit. The program is open to children ages 7 to 15 with intellectual and physical disabilities. Figure 3-12. United Airlinesâ Autism Inclusion Resources program (left) and check-in and boarding at Newark Liberty International Airport (right).