Working with local schools in Dubai, autism groups and key stakeholders, Emirates and Dubai International Airport (DXB) are focused on improving the travel experience of neurodivergent passengers, facilitating ‘travel trials’ where children can practice their Travel through the airport and on board the plane. as well as working directly with families to delight superfans like 11-year-old Humza on her first flight with Emirates.
Humza Dabab recently flew from Melbourne to Dubai with his mother and two brothers and enjoyed a VIP experience on Emirates, his favorite airline. This was his first flight with Emirates, although his parents told him that he is already very familiar with all facets of Emirates thanks to his own studies, from the plane itself to the in-flight entertainment ice, the cabin crew uniform and the security video.
Humza bought his own seat belt to simulate and act out the safety warning, of which he has memorized all the words, and has a collection of Emirates airplane models to practice the take-off and landing experience. Lamees, Humza’s mother, said: ‘The plane is Humza’s happy place. The destination isn’t even the most exciting part of the trip, I can say without reservation that it is the plane ride itself. He is very excited to finally travel with Emirates.”
Humza is autistic and being on time is a crucial requirement for his particular needs. The possibility of arriving late or missing the flight would cause significant anxiety that must be alleviated in advance. Emirates and Dubai International Airport employees are trained and prepared for these requests and can facilitate priority boarding for neurodivergent passengers, known as People of Determination in the UAE, as well as offering a support system at the airport for customers who declare your additional needs.
Emirates has also been working closely with Dubai Airports to facilitate travel trials for neurodiverse children, including students from the Mohammed bin Rashid Special Education Centre.
These trials are part of the accessible and inclusive travel program developed by Dubai Airports and Emirates, designed to help customers familiarize themselves with the airport environment, its people and processes, before travelling. Students are escorted by family members and therapists through the airport and plane to simulate an authentic travel experience, including the physical artifacts and processes that passengers will go through on the day of travel, such as boarding passes and security checks. The practice process helps families gain confidence in managing the experience, while enabling Emirates and Dubai airports to constantly improve services for passengers with additional needs.
Emirates supports neurodivergent passengers and people of determination in many ways. More than 29,000 cabin crew and ground staff worldwide have completed Emirates’ “Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities” training. The online course was first launched in 2022 and covers a range of topics from the UAE National Policy for People of Determination, autism recognition, practical tips on how to help passengers with hidden disabilities, responding with empathy and information about official support systems to help passengers at the airport.
Emirates supports passengers with hidden disabilities by providing as much information as possible in advance, so families can plan, rehearse and have peace of mind about their upcoming journey. Passengers can consult the Accessible travel page on Emirates.com for information and to contact your Emirates Local Office with queries.
Free seat and bulkhead seat selection for autistic passengers and companions
Passengers who declare a hidden disability will be provided, as far as possible, with free selection of suitable seats, for example, bulkhead seats in the front and center of the aircraft for both the autistic passenger and his companion. This can be requested through Emirates Local Office.
Book with ‘code DPNA’ for additional support
A DPNA is an airline industry code for special service request (SSR) for a “passenger with an intellectual or developmental disability.” The DPNA code can be applied to a reservation made in person, by telephone or through a travel agency and is applied once the hidden disability has been declared, so that the passenger will be accompanied throughout their trip with the assistance of trained personnel.
Study the ‘Autism Friendly Guide’ to Dubai International Airport
Emirates has collaborated with Dubai International Airport on a comprehensive pre-travel planning tool for passengers with hidden disabilities. He Autism friendly guide to Dubai International Airport provides a step-by-step explanation and images of each part of the journey through the airport to boarding, and details what services are available.
Some passengers may need a special meal on board if they have sensory sensitivity. It can be requested with a minimum of 24 hours in advance at www.Emirates.com or in the Emirates app. There are options to order gluten-free meals, soft meals, vegetarian and diabetic meals available. For children’s meals, families traveling with an autistic passenger can contact the Emirates Local Office with your request in advance.
Pre-plan what to see on the ice through the Emirates app
Download the Emirates app and before a flight, passengers can spend time planning and pre-selecting their favorite movies, TV shows or music playlists. Once the passenger has boarded, their personally selected playlist can be immediately synced to Ice, saving them time and allowing them to settle into the flight faster with the comfort of their familiar content.
Arrival at the airport
Free parking for 2 hours.
People of determination receive complimentary parking at all terminals at Dubai International Airport for 2 hours. Taxis for People of Determination can also be booked through Dubai Taxi on their toll-free number 80088088.
Pick up sunflower lanyard for hidden disabilities
He The sunflower with hidden disabilities is a globally recognized symbol for hidden disabilities. Emirates and Dubai International Airport staff wearing sunflower badges are easily identifiable and specially trained to assist travelers with hidden disabilities. Passengers are encouraged to declare their hidden disability to these staff and pick up a sunflower lanyard to wear, allowing them to be supported throughout their journey to the airport. The sunflower cord can be collected at the Departures information desk, Terminal 3 and at exclusive and easily identifiable collection points in Terminals 1 and 2.
Autism Friendly Route
The Autism Friendly Route through Dubai International Airport ensures that People of Determination travel through the airport with a dedicated route. Includes access to priority lanes for check-in, passport control, security and boarding; and can be used when using the sunflower lanyard. Staff specially trained and equipped to support People of Determination will be easily identifiable with sunflower pins, allowing for greater visibility, communication and support throughout the airport journey.
Priority boarding or last boarding if preferred
People who have declared their hidden disabilities to Emirates staff will be allowed to board the plane first if they wish, or last if it is more convenient for them.
Emirates onboard experience
Families with children sit together.
Emirates makes every effort to seat families with children together, and passengers who have declared a hidden disability will be seated next to their companion or guardian.
Noise canceling headphones
Passengers with a hearing sensory need in First Class and Business Class will have access to noise-canceling headphones to block out ambient cabin sounds.
If the customer, child or family member informs the Emirates cabin crew about light sensitivity, the cabin crew may turn off the passenger’s individual light, close the window blind after take-off and explain that the cabin lights cabin will dim as soon as the meal is over. Services are completed.
Get to work with puzzles in Fly with Me magazine
Young children on board who need a break from the screen or a distraction can request a copy of Emirates’ ‘Fly with Me’ activity pack, with their own pack of non-toxic crayons, including world maps, puzzles, tutorials drawing and coloring pages for children. , educational activities about Dubai and environmental protection.
Choose favorite entertainment on ice.
Passengers enjoying an Emirates flight can spend time in a world-class entertainment library with more than 6,500 on-demand entertainment channels, up to 2,000 movies and 1,500 hours of television, as well as music, podcasts and audiobooks in 40 languages . Ice also has up to 100 video games, which can be played by two players in different seats if the game is multiplayer.
To improve the travel experience of neurodiverse passengers or people of determination, Emirates collaborates with multiple stakeholders, including Dubai Airports, the Directorate General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai Customs, Dubai Police, the Dubai Autism and the Dubai Economy and Tourism.
All images credited to Emirates.