Oct 22, 2019
Bruce Sickler, team manager for American Airlines "It's Cool to Fly" Program called our show to discuss this groundbreaking program with us. For further information, contact bruce.sickler@AA.com directly.
"You're caring for people on life's journey." - Bruce Sickler
From American Airlines:
To many flyers, the airport experience is a routine part of life. Check-in, security, gate areas and jet bridges are features of a second home. Customers buckle in, the plane pushes back and with a nudge of the throttles, two engines begin to roar. The plane taxis down the ramp and onto the active taxiway in preparation for takeoff.
With each of those experiences comes sensory inputs that we might take for granted — sights and sounds like crowds, intercom announcements, lights, screens, safety demonstrations and more. But to a child with autism, and to that child’s family, any of these things can instantly create fear, anxiety or discomfort and become a challenge that, in the moment, feels insurmountable.
For the last five years, American Airlines team members across the country have partnered with local organizations and airport colleagues to make the process less of a mystery, helping these children and their families know what to expect from their air travel experience and bringing greater inclusion, awareness and understanding to those on the autism spectrum. And they’ve had one unified message: It’s Cool to Fly American (ICTFA).
ICTFA is essentially a mock travel experience. Kids and their families concerned about the hustle and bustle of air travel are able to experience nearly every aspect of it without actually taking off. They park, check-in, wait at the gate, board, taxi, return to the gate and retrieve their luggage. The experience lasts about 3 1/2 hours.
Since its inception in 2014, ICTFA has served more than 5,000 participants and 1,500 families.
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