HOUSTON — On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, Wings for All®, a national initiative of The Arc, landed again at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
In partnership with the Houston Airport System, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and United Airlines, Wings for All® hosted a “practice” airport experience for children with autism. Bush Airport is one of the busiest airports in the U.S., meaning it can sometimes be an overwhelming experience for children with sensory issues. Through Wings for All®, families of children with autism were able to practice going through the airport and getting onboard an aircraft, so that when it is time to travel on an actual trip, they are more familiar with the process and their surroundings.
“The Houston Airport System and we here at George Bush Intercontinental Airport are thrilled to be a part of this event. Our employees, volunteer airport ambassadors and business partners have really answered the call by generously giving of their time and offering their assistance to ensure the success of this worthy program. If this helps even one family to expand and enhance their travel opportunities then this will have been time well spent,” said Viorica “Ella” Ghica, Manager of Customer Services for Bush Airport.
During this event, held twice a year at Bush Airport, families practice obtaining boarding passes, passing through TSA security, waiting in the boarding area and boarding an airplane. While on the plane, they buckle up, enjoy a beverage and snack, and listen to the captain's announcements. They can familiarize themselves with the seats, tray tables and aircraft restrooms. Wings for All® also gives the airport, airline and TSA professionals the opportunity to observe, interact and deliver their services in a structured, learning environment.
“The Arc of Texas firmly believes in the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all aspects of life. Wings for All provides the opportunity to make air travel inclusive for everyone. The ‘practice’ is both a teaching and learning opportunity for families, TSA, airport, and airline personnel in building confidence and familiarity with air travel processes and in alleviating stress so that air travel is successful for everyone involved” said Ana M. Martinez, Chief Executive Officer for The Arc of Texas.
Participants and airline staff shared stories, information, ideas, and best practices for creating an inclusive and safe airport experience for all.
“All individuals deserve to feel confident and comfortable when they travel and Wings for All creates a unique opportunity for customers to gain additional knowledge and skills to travel with ease,” said Michelle Brown, United’s Managing Director of Customer Service in Houston. “As the leading carrier in Houston, it is important that all of our customers have a seamless and enjoyable travel experience. We are proud to partner with Wings for All to help make that happen.”
This event is held in partnership with The Arc of Greater Houston, The Arc of Fort Bend County, The Arc of Texas and the Doug Flutie Foundation.
Learn more about The Arc and its programs at this link.