WEDNESDAY FEB 28, 2024
×
Search AeroXplorer
American Airlines Resuming Practice Flights for Kids with Autism and Anxiety

American Airlines Resuming Practice Flights for Kids with Autism and Anxiety

BY JACK TURNER 679d AGO 1 COMMENTS

For the first time in two years, families now have the option of booking practice flights on American Airlines for their kids and relatives to get them ready for future travels. The program, which had been in operation since 2014, was suspended in 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many parents may feel helpless when flying with family members dealing with autism, anxiety, or other conditions/special needs; American's practice flights have been implemented to resolve them, and are so popular that there is already a waitlist. 

 

Photo of N819AN - American Airlines Boeing 787-8 at MIA
After two years of hiatus, American is bringing back a popular program for families | Photo: Raul Sepulveda

 

Historically, the program, called “It’s Cool To Fly With American Airlines,” has served 49 different cities across the United States, but is now only being operated out of Charlotte (CLT), Philadelphia (PHL), San Diego (SAN), Santa Ana/Orange County (SNA), Los Angeles (LAX), Cleveland (CLE), and Jacksonville (JAX). The entire program is open to anyone of any age and allows patrons to experience the airport experience with tasks like going through security, boarding a flight, taxiing on the tarmac, and even feeling the experience of thrusters on takeoff. Scarymommy,com quoted the program manager Bruce Sickler as saying that the program targets "kids with autism, but we don’t turn anyone away,” since even adults can experience anxiety surrounding flying.

 

The Special American Program simulates the entire flight process with comfortable amenities to relieve stress Photo: Mark S.


American is not the only airline operating a program like this, but it is certainly the largest. Since its inception, the "It's Okay to Fly" program has helped over 6,000 customers living with special needs. Delta Airlines has operated similar events at Miami (MIA), Atlanta (ATL), and Minneapolis (MSP) in the past, though on a much less frequent basis, with events at Atlanta (ATL) and Minneapolis (MSP) occurring just monthly. JetBlue also occasionally offers "Blue Horizons" events catering to people with special needs at certain airports. JetBlue has not restarted the program yet since the pandemic began. United Airlines partners with "Wings for All" to offer a simulated experience for travelers with special needs twice a year, but these have only been offered out of Houston-Intercontinental (IAH) and Washington-Dulles (IAD). United "Wings for All" partnership events have also not been offered post-pandemic.

 

All in all, American resuming a popular program is a positive development, and hopefully the other major U.S. carriers will follow suit and resume and expand their programs post-pandemic. 

Jack Turner
Jack is a member of the AeroXplorer writing team and particularly enjoys sharing news around domestic flying and news surrounding his favorite airline, Delta. Jack splits his time between his hometown of Burlingame, California and Ithaca, New York and enjoys all things public transport in addition to aviation.

Comments (1)

bhxluca Great work Jack ^Luca
Reply

Add Your Comment

SHARE

TAGS

NEWS americanspecial needsflight trainingmiamicharlottephiladelphialos angelesorange countysan diegojacksonvillecleveland

RECENTLY PUBLISHED

Military Planes From Four Countries Drop Humanitarian Aid on War-Torn Gaza Strip Amid the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip, various air forces participated in a joint effort to drop aid parcels by parachute along Gaza's coast. According to the Kingdom of Jordan, this operation was a direct effort to help needy people. NEWS READ MORE »
Air India and FlyArystan Planes Nearly Collide on Runway at Mumbai Airport A disaster was narrowly avoided at India's second-busiest airport as two Airbus jets were involved in a runway incursion. This incident occurred between an Air India A319 and FlyArystan A320neo on February 22. NEWS READ MORE »
Hundreds of Flights Canceled in Argentina as Aviation Employees Go on One-Day Strike Hundreds of flights were canceled in Argentina as unionized airport employees partake in a 24-hour strike on February 28. The only airlines operating at Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires are American Airlines and Flybondi. As the strike was coordinated, various domestic and international airlines flying in the country rescheduled or moved flights to assist their passengers. NEWS READ MORE »


SHOP

$2999
NEW!AeroXplorer Aviation Sweater Use code AVGEEK for 10% off! BUY NOW

FOLLOW US ONLINE