On Saturday, September 21, Autism Speaks partnered with JetBlue Airways, Port Authority and the TSA to host Blue Horizons for Autism, the first-of-its-kind event at New York’s JFK Airport to provide families and individuals affected by autism the opportunity to practice the air travel experience in a realistic setting. Wyndham Worldwide provided a generous contribution to Autism Speaks towards the event.
More than 300 people participated in the program, beginning their day by checking-in at the Jet Blue terminal’s ticket counter. They then proceeded through TSA security screening, and waited at a designated gate for the arrival of their flight. Upon boarding the plane, JetBlue crew members led the participants through pre-takeoff procedures. To simulate the in-air experience, the plane taxied and pulled into another gate where disembarking was practiced. A reception followed to celebrate the conclusion of the day’s activities. Ten behavior analysts from Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism volunteered their time to help support the participants throughout the day.
In addition to providing the families with the opportunity to experience air travel in a relaxed, stress free environment, Blue Horizons for Autism educated airport and airline professionals about autism and how to best meet the needs of the individuals affected by autism. Prior to Saturday’s event, on Wednesday, September 18, Autism Speaks experts held training sessions at JFK with more than 50 JetBlue 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.
The JetBlue Crew
All smiles! Do they have an aisle seat?