Recently there have been several stories about airlines refusing to let families with children/young adults with disabilities such as autism and Down’s Syndrome fly on the planes they were scheduled for. Some were rebooked on other flights, that is only more stressful when considering trying to keep a special needs child entertained in an airport for several more hours. One family lost their first class upgrade and weren’t reimbursed. For others there were then disruptions in their trip plans by delays getting to destinations.
As consumers, you need a voice in providing accommodations for travel from these airlines. You need to help them know that it affects their bottom line. After all for autism the prevalence is one person in every 88. You look at ADHD and you are talking one person in every 10-20 depending on the statistics you believe. For learning disabilities, which can cause confusion, frustration, and even anger when the process is not clear, the numbers are about 1 in every 14.
Yes the airlines might say that there are enough people out there who don’t have these struggles, so their flights will still be booked. But what if everyone who is related to, works with, or is friends with these special people decided to boycott airlines that would not develop a plan of accommodation. What would happen to their bottom line then?
Now I am not necessarily a riot planner, but I do find that with our increasing awareness of developmental and behavioral struggles in children, who then grow up often with many of the struggles still unaddressed, that we need to begin to take stands as consumers for more accommodations and services from private and public businesses to allow this population to be part of society.
In the meantime, for those who do travel with family members with autism and other disabilities, I did come upon a site that has many helpful suggestions. It is called Autism Globetrotting: Autism Travel Made Easy. Check it out and share it with others if you find it useful.