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American Airlines Brings Back Practice Flights for Autistic, Disabled Passengers After Two Years

The program targets kids with autism and other disabilities with a trip through the airport and onto an American Airlines plane, hoping to calm anxieties for kids and parents alike.

American Airlines Brings Back Practice Flights for Autistic, Disabled Passengers After Two Years

The program targets kids with autism and other disabilities with a trip through the airport and onto an American Airlines plane, hoping to calm anxieties for kids and parents alike.

Published 04-08-22

Submitted by American Airlines

Child looking out of an airplane window
Three-year-old Kanin Nightingale looked out the window on a plane at DFW International Airport on April 2, 2022, during a special practice run conducted by American Airlines to help special needs children and their families get adjusted to air travel. (Lawrence Jenkins / Special Contributor) Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

Previously Published by The Dallas Morning News

By Kyle Arnold

Plano’s Janet Diorio has been dreaming about a trip to California or Florida, but she has been too nervous to fly for years.

Not afraid of flying, per se. She worries about the ordeal it could create for her 8-year-old daughter Caroline, who has autism.

Diorio, along with her husband and Caroline’s twin brother Ryan, got a dry run for a future vacation Saturday at DFW International Airport, as American Airlines restarted a program that the COVID-19 pandemic put on a two-year pause. The “It’s Cool to Fly American Airlines” program is targeted toward special needs flyers who want practice with the travel experience.

“I want to go on vacation but I thought, ‘How am I going to get my daughter on a plane?” Diorio said. “Is she going to sit in her seat? Is she going to run up and down the aisles?”

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