Airport travel guide for people with dementia

Front cover of the Brisbane airport travel guide for people with dementia showing an aircraft overlaid with artistic coloured squaresAirports are confusing places at the best of times, particularly for the first visit. The size, noise, and number of people don’t help. If the signs aren’t in a language you understand it can be bewildering. Knowing what to expect before you go is a great help. Brisbane Airport  airport travel guide for people with dementia is also good for first time visitors.

The guide is titled, Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide through the Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal for People Living with Dementia and their Travel Companions.

The guide is easy to follow. It covers preparing for the journey, getting to the airport, checking in and flying out. Coming home again addresses, passport, baggage claim, and domestic transfers among other things. There is a list of dementia friendly symbols at the end of the guide.

While this guide is specific to Brisbane International Airport, much of the information could be adapted for other airports in Australia. As with most things designed with a particular disability in mind, it is probably useful for any first time overseas traveller.

Airports and autism

People in warm clothes push their baggage at an airport. Vancouver airport has introduced a simulated rehearsal program to help families with the whole pre-flight process so it becomes more predictable. People who are likely to be overwhelmed by the whole process like to know beforehand what is going to happen and how it all works. This could also include people who are new to air travel, especially now that most processes are automated.

The program includes the Vancouver Airport Resource Kit, which features a step-by-step storybook, interactive checklist, airport map and tips for travel. There is also a video series that helps travellers with autism prepare for the flight.

Vancouver airport has an “Autism Access Sticker” that can be placed on boarding passes. The sticker ensures a smooth transition through screening and customs. It also communicates the specific needs of passengers to airport employees. See the video series below. Very well done – a good model that can be applied to all airports.