In the April edition of Sky, Delta gives customers a glimpse into how the airline is making traveling a little easier for those on the autism spectrum. Here's the article:
Many travelers don’t give a second thought to the busyness of an airport. For kids on the autism spectrum, however, it can be overwhelming.Starting this month – National Autism Awareness Month – Delta is offering a soothing option to those children by opening a multisensory room in the F concourse at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The room will contain a mini crash pit, a padded platform, a tactile activity panel and other items that kids can interact with.
“That sensory perception has a calming effect before getting on the plane,” says Letty Ashworth, Delta’s director of global diversity. “The room provides a quiet, supportive environment for children on the spectrum to acclimate to their travel experience.”
This isn’t the only involvement Delta has in making travel less daunting for kids with autism. Several Delta pilots also volunteer to lead monthly airport familiarization tours in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta for families with autistic children, covering everything from going through security to boarding and being on a plane.
“The best part of volunteering… is that moment when you see clarity in a child’s eyes and hear the ensuing sigh of relief from their parent,” says pilot Andrea Ratfield (above). “We realize we have helped that family navigate the fear and challenges of flying.”
Caption: First Officer Richard Kargel and Captain Andrea Ratfield on an airport familiarization tour.