In celebration of World Autism Awareness Day (02 April), British Airways has today announced it is the first airline to be awarded the renowned ‘Autism Friendly Award’, accredited by the National Autism Society.
The airline has been recognised for the work it is doing to raise awareness of autism among its staff and for creating a personalised, seamless travel experience for autistic customers, allowing them to fly independently and with ease.
As British Airways celebrates its centenary year, the airline has been working closely with a number of specialist charities, including the National Autistic Society, and has implemented numerous enhancements to improve the experience for all customers requiring additional assistance, including those with autism and other hidden disabilities.
Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “I am really proud that British Airways has been recognised as the first autism-friendly airline in the UK. We welcome nearly half a million customers who require special assistance each year and we’ll be prioritising further improvements for these customers throughout our centenary year.
“This includes a new, specialist team in our customer contact centres, accessible information on ba.com and further training for colleagues. We also understand that our customers with autism often find new environments stressful and overwhelming and that’s why we’re creating a step-by-step guide of the British Airways journey experience, which I’m looking forward to sharing with customers very soon.”
Tom Purser, National Autistic Society’s Head of Campaigns and Public Engagement, said: “We are delighted to be able to recognise British Airways as the first autism-friendly airline in the UK; the airline has worked hard to achieve our prestigious Autism Friendly Award, making changes to staff training, the kind of information available to customers and the process of getting on and off a British Airways aircraft.
“By taking these steps, now and into the future, British Airways is opening up its world-renowned customer service and working with us to help create a society that works for autistic people.”
Supporting customers with additional needs
Earlier this year, British Airways launched its ‘Beyond Accessibility’ campaign, its biggest ever global accessibility training programme, empowering colleagues to fully support customers requiring additional assistance.
In addition to this substantial investment in accessibility training, the airline endorses the ‘Sunflower’ hidden disability lanyard, a subtle way for customers to let British Airways customer service agents know they have a hidden disability and may require extra help.
The airline regularly meets with its accessibility customer advisory group and has implemented a series of improvements across all stages of the customer journey, from booking to arrival at the destination, leading to a significant increase in customer satisfaction from customers with both hidden and visible disabilities.