Passengers with “invisible” disabilities — including autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, chronic pain, vision and hearing impairments, and epilepsy — have endured a long haul toward feeling truly welcome in the skies and at gates. But times are changing, as government agencies, trade associations and advocacy organizations step forward to empower them to be more visible … and on their terms.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyard and badge, available free of charge on request, has made an international impact since its founding at London’s Gatwick Airport in 2016. Ruth Rabet, the advocacy organization’s director of international airports, notes creating the badge was necessary when it was observed that among 664,000 passengers who came through Gatwick in 2019, thousands may have been overlooked, as they had non-visible disabilities.
“While it doesn’t give fast-track access, it alerts airport personnel and crews that [the wearer] may need additional support such as quick access to a restroom, quiet area or another form of assistance,” explained Rabet. “We get feedback from passengers who told us that airline or airport staff who saw their badge or lanyard asked, ‘I see you have a sunflower’ and if they were okay, or if they could help in any way. We also offer airline crew and aviation personnel short training videos, including one defining hidden disabilities.”
British Airways, Air New Zealand and Turkish Airlines were the first to acknowledge the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and make lanyards available through onboard catering. Toronto Pearson International and London Heathrow were early adopters among overseas airports, while Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was the first U.S. airport to integrate them into airport protocols. JFK, Tampa and Minneapolis international airports followed, with more to get on board in 2023.
The International Air Transport Association updated its Airport Development Reference Manual in 2022 with recommendations to adopt universal design accessibility features for airlines and airports. This includes Multi-Sensory Stimulation Environments and quiet areas at airports, providing a calm space for passengers with sensory or cognitive impairments. The Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Cares helpline answers travelers’ questions and helps arrange extra assistance at the airport with a TSA passenger support specialist up to 72 hours before a flight.
According to Hannah Walden, communications manager, Airlines for America, member airlines Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest and United upped their commitment to passengers with visible and invisible disabilities. This includes continued study and development of aircraft accessibility features and expansion of education for employees and airline industry workers.
There is something magical about sipping a glass of local wine while watching the sun slip into the Aegean Sea as the afterglow tinges traditional, white-washed Cycladic houses with glorious shades of rose, purple and gold. Ancient Greeks believed Helios, the Sun God, caused sunsets by driving his fiery chariot into the sea. Standing at water’s edge in Mykonos, watching the sky slowly turn from purple to inky black, you almost believe it.
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The prospect of a post-visit treasure hunting session inside the shops of landmark museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and The British Museum in London can be irresistible. However, some of Europe’s smaller and more unusual museums boast retail spaces with a surprising “wow” factor, often as well-curated as the galleries.
Hyatt Hotels recently announced plans to add more than 30 new luxury and lifestyle hotels and resorts to its U.S., Canada, Latin America and Caribbean portfolio through 2025. These new hotels and resorts span many of Hyatt Hotels’ brands including Park Hyatt, Dream Hotels, Thompson Hotels and Destination by Hyatt.
IHG Hotels & Resorts is thrilled to announce the launch of a new mobile product feature for members: IHG Wi-Fi Auto Connect. This feature is now available exclusively in the IHG One Rewards mobile app for both iOS and Android users and will automatically connect IHG One Rewards members to WiFi upon arrival at more than 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide — no separate passwords or log-ins needed. This is in addition to the exciting benefits of being an IHG Business Edge member. IHG Business Edge provides small- and medium-sized businesses access to a user-friendly portal that displays comprehensive spending and savings data while providing the convenience of direct booking with a guaranteed discount.
I hadn’t even made it to my first cup of coffee when I got an early phone call from my sister, who lives two time zones away. “OMG, Kristy, Patsy Cline came on twice while I was driving the kids to school today,” she laughed. “You know what that means, right?” We both gasped and then instantly began singing the lyrics to “La Bamba,” an inside joke we’d shared since our family’s Alaskan cruise decades ago when we, unintentionally, won the ship’s karaoke contest among a sea of Patsy Cline tributes.
The Woodward Geneva and Swiss International Air Lines recently launched a new collaboration to transport passengers to the counter of Michelin-starred restaurant L’Atelier Robuchon. As part of the SWISS Taste of Switzerland inflight culinary program, the partnership provides Business and first-class travelers on SWISS long-haul flights departing from Geneva and Zürich carefully curated menus inspired by the restaurant.
Experience the life-changing destination of Greece by exploring its island gems in the Ionian Sea. Scattered off the western coastline of Central Greece, to the south of Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands are an island group comprising large and small islands.
In partnership with Nobu Hospitality, SODIC, Egypt’s leading real estate developer, recently announced plans on the expansion of the Nobu brand in Egypt. This expansion entails the development of luxury hotels, branded residences and the acclaimed Nobu restaurant.