An airport can be a stressful place for nervous flyers and those with SEND. With the endless amount of people everywhere, all the rules, everything needing to be ready for security and rushing around on a strict time frame, or worry over disruption and delays; it can all be overwhelming and too much to take in. This is true for anyone of course, but for children with SEND, it can be much more intense.
One tip is to speak to the airport ahead of time and enquire about their accessibility provisions. Many offer a lanyard to wear, which indicates to staff that your family has additional needs. This might fast track you through queues for example, taking the stress out of difficulties waiting in line. It is also possible to request boarding last or first, depending on the what would best serve the needs of the individual.
It may also help to talk things through with your child beforehand, to prepare them for what to expect, and to answer their airport-related questions. One of these discussions may include who the different people are at airports, besides passengers. If so, here is a useful guide…
Airports are like small cities, so you’ll most likely find people with jobs that you’re already familiar with, this includes retail and restaurant workers, security officers and cleaners. All of these jobs are there to make your airport experience run as effortlessly and enjoyable as possible.
As this article on Fun Kids Live mentions, even if you and your children are aware of these jobs elsewhere, their job at the airport is quite different. For instance, “with half a million people travelling through our airports everyday, the cleaning teams end up dealing with 700 tonnes of rubbish every year!”
However, there are many other jobs that you wouldn’t imagine that you could find at airports. For example, London Gatwick Airport has a biodiversity consultant, who maintains the green spaces in and around the Gatwick site, from carrying out butterfly inspections to protecting a colony of long-horned bees that made Gatwick their home.
There are many people who can be found around the runway, where you see your plane getting ready for boarding. From airfield managers, who patrol the airfield during the day to check for any type of damage and that ensure there is no debris on the runway, to load planning officers, who determine the best way to fit all the cargo in the hold – basically real-life Tetris.
You will also find ground handling staff getting your plane ready for the flight. They carry out a lot of different tasks, including loading and unloading baggage from airplanes and moving planes from the hangers to the runway by the help of aircraft tow tractors. If you need a bit of help getting used to all the equipment used around the aircraft, visit Aviation Spares, an airport equipment supplier, which sells all the gear you could possibly find at airports.
When you board your plane, you’ll meet the cabin crew and the pilots. The pilot in charge is called the Captain and there is usually another pilot onboard called the First Officer, who can take over in case of an emergency. While the cabin crew help you find a place for your suitcase, the pilots are doing all the necessary checks before take-off. And then, it’s time sit down, relax and enjoy your flight.
What other people have you and your kids spotted at the airport?
*This is a collaborative post.