The Mighty called a United Airlines customer service representative, who was kind and helpful.
The airline has not yet responded to our email inquiry. The airline will always make sure people with autism are able to sit with their families, according to the United Airlines customer service agent.
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How are airlines accommodating customers with an autism spectrum disorder? The Mighty researched six major airlines’ online policies and contacted customer service representatives with further questions via phone and/or email.
Children with autism and their parents will always sit together.
If your family needs to change seats midway through the flight, the flight crew will do their best to reseat you (although there are no guarantees).
Be sure to let the airline personnel know well in advance, and let a flight agent know your circumstances when you arrive at the airport on flight day.
Is pre-boarding available for passengers with autism and their families? Is there information about traveling with a person with autism available online? Southwest indicates the services it does and does not provide passengers with cognitive and developmental disabilities, but it doesn’t mention autism specifically.
Jet Blue has allowed children with autism and their families to explore a parked, empty plane prior to takeoff.
Virgin America makes its accommodations on a case-by-case basis, so if you let them know what you need well in advance, they will do whatever they can to make the flight more comfortable.
It’s best to indicate that your family will need specific services as soon as you make the reservation, but it also helps to call and talk with a flight agent a few days in advance as well. The airline may be able to offer people with autism and their families to tour the plane before boarding.
It’s also a good idea to let the gate personnel know of any special needs and requests upon arriving at the airport. The airline will do its best to accommodate any special requests as long as they are made in advance — it offers assistance on an individual basis.
In the past, United has allowed children with autism and their parents to board a parked, empty plane so they can get used to it well before takeoff time.
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