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Emirates Pioneers Autism-Friendly Travel Experience for Neurodiverse Families 

Emirates Airlines has taken a groundbreaking step towards inclusive travel by organizing a unique familiarization flight and travel rehearsal for 30 families with neurodiverse children. 

The initiative, held on April 24th at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport (DXB), aimed to provide families with a real check-in experience and flight simulation to help alleviate travel anxieties and raise awareness about autism.

The event welcomed Her Excellency Hessa BuHumaid, Director General of the Community Development Authority of Dubai, alongside neurodiverse children aged 8 to 12 from various centers including Dubai Autism Centre, Safe Centre for Autism, Rashid Centre for People of Determination, and the New England Centre Children Clinic. Notably, a child with Angelman Syndrome, a condition associated with developmental delays, speech impairments, and seizures, also participated in the event.

Emirates prioritized accessibility throughout the journey, offering the families access to the Autism Friendly Route at DXB, which includes priority lanes for check-in, passport control, security, and boarding. Specially trained Emirates staff provided support and guidance during the entire process, ensuring a smooth and comfortable experience for the children and their caregivers.

The familiarization flight, EK2605, departed DXB at 11:20 am and landed back at 12:20 pm, providing the children with a realistic inflight experience, including cabin announcements, inflight service, and the sights and sounds of take-off and landing.

According to a study by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), only a small percentage of families with neurodiverse children currently take family vacations due to the stressful airport and flight experiences. However, initiatives like Emirates’ travel rehearsal aim to address these challenges and make air travel more accessible for neurodiverse passengers and their families.

Emirates has also invested in extensive employee training, with over 29,000 cabin crew and ground staff completing the ‘Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities’ training program. The airline provides various pre-travel support services, including free seat selection, bulkhead seat allocation, and the option to book with a ‘DPNA code’ for extra assistance.

Moreover, Emirates offers tailored inflight experiences, such as noise-canceling headphones, light sensitivity accommodations, and entertainment options suitable for passengers with sensory sensitivities.

By pioneering autism-friendly travel initiatives and collaborating with organizations like IBCCES, Emirates is setting a new standard for inclusive air travel, aligning with Dubai’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion for all passengers, including those with diverse needs.

This initiative underscores Emirates’ dedication to creating a more inclusive travel experience and supports Dubai’s vision of becoming a leading destination for travelers of all abilities. 

Through ongoing efforts and partnerships, Emirates aims to make air travel a seamless and enjoyable experience for everyone, regardless of their neurodiversity or individual needs.

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