BUF Airport helps passengers with special needs travel with ease

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) – As the holiday season kicks off, there’s no question this will be a busier travel season than the last two pandemic and travel restricted years.

To make travel easier for families who have members with special needs, Buffalo Niagara International Airport has a pre-trip plan for you.

Williamsville mother of two Dorene Major said the trip can be exciting, but it can be daunting for her son, at least 10 years old.

“When you have a family of four you want to travel, but obviously autism can put a wrench in those plans,” said mother Dorene Major.

Max is on the autism spectrum and depending on the destination if he is interested, he can be a little less responsive.

That’s where “social stories” come in handy.

“What we could here and it kind of goes to the back of your head, they’ll hear it and it’ll be 20 times louder and then they’ll pick up 30 different things. So it’s actually a practice, just constantly pushing them out of that element and letting them hear it. Then maybe you can remove them when it gets a little overwhelming,” Major said.

Southwest Airlines Station Manager at the Buffalo Airport, Megan Sawyer, said, “We’re actually doing a tour here with them, and I’ll be guiding them with me and TSA and a member of the airport. We’ll stop by and show them their luggage. fell on the bell, some kind of system.”

For an introduction, travelers can call (716) 635-1200 ten days before the date of travel to contact a passenger assistance specialist.

Many agents at Buffalo Niagara International Airport are also trained in sign language.

Major said: “We travel every two months. We do road trips, but then fly at least twice a year. In fact, we physically remove it from that norm, from that element. their elements a bit. They’re less stressed when their routines really change.”

To make travel safer and easier for the blind and visually impaired, the airport has also partnered with an app called ‘Aira’ since 2019, which will help them connect with a travel agent who would help them get through the airport.

Major said, “Just letting everyone know ahead of time. “Hey, I have a kid who’s on the spectrum.” When you get to the gate, tell them this. They will let you board first. Or, if it’s better to board last, then they’ll hold a free zone for you and you can come in last.”

The pre-travel training program is also open to children who have a fear or phobia of flying.

“I think it was very well received. We’ve had people come back and give us really good positive feedback and they had a really positive experience on their first flight because we did the tour and went through it with them. they were really excited when they came and they weren’t scared or intimidated by it anymore,” Sawyer said.

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