Travelling with hidden disabilities becomes easier

Sunflower lanyards, among other initiatives, are helping to make travel a less stressful experience.

lanyards at Gatwick airport
Credit: Gatwick Airport
The sunflower lanyard scheme has been receiving attention from charities including Headway – covering the success of the scheme and where and how you can get a lanyard. Airports UK-wide now offer the sunflower lanyard to customers to help make the travel experience for those with a hidden disability easier. A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “If you are wearing the lanyard, staff should recognise it and understand that you have a hidden disability and that you may need extra help or time. However, they will not know what your particular disability is, or what challenges and issues you may face.” The CAA brought out industry guidelines for airlines in 2018 on assisting passengers with hidden disabilities. Paul Smith, director of consumers and markets at the CAA, said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring everyone has equal access to air travel. Passengers with hidden disabilities can find airports and aeroplanes confusing and challenging environments, which is why we want to work with the industry to ensure the journey from check-in to arrival at a final destination is made as comfortable as possible.” Some airports have also extended this scheme to offer quiet rooms, away from the noise and bustle of the main lounges. Sara Marchant, Accessibility Manager from Gatwick Airport, said: "Since we have been using the lanyards, people tell us that they feel much more confident and that they know they will get any additional help they may need." Initially the lanyards were rolled out across UK airports, but other transport providers and selected supermarkets have now done the same. Sainsbury’s in Barnstaple, Devon, had a successful trial period and the retailer now offers free sunflower lanyards, at selected stores, to people with hidden disabilities to keep for future trips to the supermarket. To accompany the lanyard scheme, London North Eastern Railway have trained volunteer ‘Sunflower Ambassadors’ who are on hand to help customers with hidden disabilities. Ascot Racecourse decided to introduce sunflower lanyards this year following the initiative’s success. You can register in advance or collect on the gate. Check out the airports, train lines and other providers supplying sunflower lanyards and other help for hidden disabilities below:
Airports Trains Other
London Northern England Midlands West England & Wales Scotland    
Gatwick   Manchester   Birmingham   Bristol   Edinburgh   c2c   Sainsbury’s  
Heathrow      Newcastle International East Midlands   Exeter   Glasgow   London North Eastern Railway   Royal Ascot  
Luton Airport   Liverpool John Lennon       Aberdeen     Aylesbury Waterside Theatre  
London Stansted   Leeds Bradford           Tesco (Trial process)  
London City              
               
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