Alex Finds His Wings

jetblue for autism

It’s difficult to find an airline you can reliably trust for your travels. With factors such as seating, menus, staff, and more to consider, you can liken the search to Cinderella and her glass slipper.

For families with autistic kids and adults, this search is all the more difficult because their needs are so unique but often overlooked in the shuffle of accommodating hundreds of other passengers.

Mother Shawna Wingert is all too familiar with this situation. She and her son Alex have to travel by plane as many as nine times a year between Seattle and California as per a custody agreement. Despite requests and explanations for her child’s behavior, Wingert has had tremendous difficulty finding an airline that both understands and accommodates Alex’s need so as to avoid public meltdowns. As a result, the pair are all too familiar with the unsympathetic stares and comments of fellow travelers.

Since using JetBlue, however, the tides have truly changed. Wingert’s experience with the company has been so great that she now exclusively flies with them. “On JetBlue every time, it’s been like, ‘We’ve got you,'” she says, adding: “That’s a huge comfort. It’s a big deal.”

She’s taken to publicly lauding them on her blog, encouraging families with similar obstacles to reach out to JetBlue as their primary source of travel. Not only are they patient, she says, but they ask beforehand just how they can best accommodate Alex, solving problems before they are even given the changes to arise. Simple adjustments to seating, boarding time, and staff attitude have made a world of difference for Alex, and he is now able to travel without the anxiety he’d formerly experienced.

Of course all airlines are different, and even vary from plane to plane. Nevertheless, the Wingerts applaud JetBlue for its unique attention to disability accommodations and recommend its services above all others to those struggling with finding a patient aircraft carrier.

Written by Sara Power