The Wings for Autism program is specifically designed for families with children on the autism spectrum, to help ease the stress of flying.
To launch this unique program Massport teamed up with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), JetBlue and the Charles River Center (a Massachusetts based nonprofit human service agency which supports individuals with a spectrum of developmental disabilities).
Current partners include the TSA, Charles River Center, Customs and Border Protection, the State Police, Massport Fire Rescue, and the Boston Logan airline community.
A Different Kind of Dress Rehearsal
With this unique concept in mind, Massport hosts a “dress rehearsal” open house day to provide families the opportunity to experience travel through Boston Logan Airport before their actual trip.
Since the inception of the program in 2011, Boston Logan has held over 18 Wings for Autism events (and one at Worcester Regional Airport) with more than 7,000 people participating. Families are able to familiarize themselves with the airport travel and navigation process and children have a chance to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes at the ticket counter, checking bags, being screened at the TSA security checkpoint, and boarding an aircraft.
Not only is this program a benefit to the families who participate, but it also provides a valuable training opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with special needs. It also raises awareness within the airport community so that we are better equipped to provide a positive travel experience to families and their children on the autism spectrum.
Massport hosts this event twice a year with airline pilots, flight attendants, ground airline crew, and TSA screeners who volunteer their time to offer these children and their families a chance to experience flying on a plane and in turn allowing us the opportunity to learn how we can better serve them.
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