One Airport Is Making It A Bit Easier To Travel With A Disability

As a former special education teacher I have had the pleasure to work with children of all abilities in an inclusive setting. My goal was to offer just enough support that they felt safe and secure as well as an equal to their peers.  So, you can imagine the smile that came across my face when I learned what Heathrow Airport is doing to help travelers with disabilities.

The Sunflower Lanyard

If you’re someone who deals with a disability that may prevent you or someone you love from feeling safe when traveling, Heathrow Airport has simple but powerful concept to help.   If you’re flying through Heathrow you can request a Sunflower Lanyard.  The Sunflower Lanyard will discreetly identify you or your loved one with a hidden disability and signals staff that you may need extra support while traveling through the airport.

From Heathrow Airport’s website:

We understand all passengers are unique and we offer different levels of support tailored to your needs. For a hidden disability such as autism, dementia or anxiety, help is always at hand at the airport.

If you know you will be traveling through Heathrow here is how to receive a lanyard:

Email them at special_assistance@heathrow.com and include the following information in your email:

  • Full name (including surnames)
  • Departing / Connecting or Arriving terminal
  • Flight number(s)
  • Postal address where your lanyard will be delivered
  • Number of lanyards are required

They request that you provide all the above information is provided as missing information will result in a delay to you receiving your lanyard/s.  The website recommends allowing 4 business days for passengers in the UK and up to 7 business days for passengers outside the UK to receive their lanyard.

Lanyards can also be collected at the airport from the following locations:

Departing Customers

Assistance desk:

Connecting Customers

Assistance desk:

Arriving Customers

A lanyard may be collected in each terminal UK Border Force (Immigration) before the queue maze. Please ask any member of staff in the area who will be able to assist.

The Final Two Pennies

Maybe Heathrow Airport is starting a trend that (I hope!) will catch on at other airports.

Way to go Heathrow! What airport is next or even airline? Why not since everyone is born with some gift to give the world and those with a disability are no different.  The world of travel should be given to anyone who wants to and done with as much ease a possible.

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Featured image courtesy of flik47/Bigstockphoto.

7 Comments

  1. Shared!
    As a sister to my late brother with developmental disabilities, this would’ve been so helpful when we traveled in the United States. Thanks very much for posting.

  2. That is awesome! I have a 20-year old son with severe Autism. He hasn’t been on a plane since he was 6 because my wife and I are anxious about how his minor outbursts could be handled by airport staff and security. But we’re just getting into points and miles and would love to take him with us on our travels. Seeing stories like this make us feel better about these situations.

    Conversely, I saw a recent story about a young man with Autism that was not allowed to take a flight because of how the TSA inspection went (I think it was in Florida). According to the article, it could have been handled with little consequence, except the TSA agent insisted on doing things his way instead of trying to accommodate the young man with special needs.

    There’s still a lot that can be done to help families like ours, but I’m with you in hoping that what they are doing at Heathrow sets a trend. We’re flying with our son this winter from Austin to Seattle, so here’s hoping it goes well and that we see that flying will no longer be an obstacle for us in our travels.

    Also, thanks so much for your time serving this population. It takes a special person to teach in special ed!!!

    1. Matt
      Check out my friends organization
      Open Skies for Autism
      At Air Hollywood , they have days where kids with Autism can come and they have a mock TSA , gate area , jetway and plane for them to become accustomed to the environment..

      1. That program looks great! I would love to have a place to “practice” with my son. Too bad they’re in California. I’ll have to see if there’s anything similar in Texas.

        We do plan on getting him TSA pre-check, so I hope that helps.

  3. What a cool idea. I bet this is especially helpful for people who have “invisible” disabilities and have service animals. Helps to clarify further that it’s not just a pet.

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