On Saturday, May 3, Autism Speaks, JetBlue Airways and Pacific Child and Family Associates hosted more than 200 people for a Blue Horizons for Autism airport rehearsal event at Burbank Bob Hope Airport in Los Angeles, Ca. Blue Horizons for Autism provides families and individuals affected by autism with the opportunity to navigate the air travel experience in a realistic, relaxed environment, surrounded by other families in the autism community.
The families began their day by checking-in at the airport’s ticket counter. They then proceeded through security screening, and waited at a designated gate for the arrival of their flight. Upon boarding the plane, JetBlue crewmembers led the families through pre-takeoff procedures. To simulate the in-air experience, the plane taxied and pulled into another gate where the participants practiced disembarking a flight. Behavior analysts from Pacific Child and Family Associates were onsite assisting participants throughout the day. It was a unforgettable experience for everyone who participated in event, especially for two lucky families who won a raffle for roundtrip tickets courtesy of JetBlue.
In addition to providing the families with an opportunity to experience air travel, Blue Horizons for Autism also educates airport and airline crewmembers about autism and how to best meet the needs of the autism community. Prior to Saturday’s event, Autism Speaks experts held training sessions at Burbank Bob Hope Airport with JetBlue crewmembers and TSA personnel. The sessions included an overview of autism, as well as tips and strategies to make the air travel experience as pleasant and successful as possible for everyone involved.
Autism Speaks and JetBlue previously held a Blue Horizons for Autism event at JFK Airport in New York last September. Additional events are planned for New York and Orlando, Fla., in the fall.