On Friday, October 30th, JetBlue Airways and Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport partnered with Autism Speaks to bring a unique travel experience to the autism community. The Blue Horizons for Autism event was the first-of-its-kind in Broward County, and families traveled from all over South Florida, including Miami, Hollywood, all the way up to Palm Beach Gardens. Over 50 people who participated in the event.
The families were given an opportunity to navigate the air travel experience in a realistic, relaxed and controlled environment, surrounded and supported by other families in the autism community. They checked in, received boarding passes, went through security, and finally boarded the plane! While on the plane, we were able to taxi around the runway for 15 minutes. The flight attendant, Theresa, got the kids involved and let them tell jokes to the whole plane. Once “landed,” everyone was able to go into the cockpit with the pilots and get an up close and personal look!
We understand that air travel can be stressful for the most seasoned travelers, but for those who have autism and experience hypersensitivity, anxiety and difficulty communicating, it can be even more difficult. As a result, flying simply isn’t an option for many families in the autism community, so for most of those boarding the plane today, this was their first time ever stepping foot on one! Some overcame a fear, some never wanted to leave, and we even learned that one child can’t wait to grow up to “fly planes”. And he will.
We can’t thank the staff at FLL and JetBlue enough for their kindness and attention to detail as they made our participants feel comfortable and gave them a great experience.
Check out some of the great photos from the day below...