Sunflower assistance grows

Sunflower assistance scheme grows at Exeter Airport

A special assistance scheme introduced at Exeter Airport this year has already helped hundreds of passengers with hidden disabilities.

Sunflower lanyards are a discreet signal to staff that wearers have hidden disabilities or conditions such as a hearing or sight impairment, dementia or autism, and may require additional support.

Passengers wearing them indicate to the airport team that they may require help with check-in and security, being talked through what to expect as they travel through the airport and potential assistance with reading signs and departure boards.

Exeter Airport provides assistance to more than 20,000 passengers a year and says hundreds of passengers have already made use of the new sunflower lanyards.

Exeter Airport Customer Services Manager Leah Byrne (left) with Airport Duty Manager Hannah Whittaker

Customer Services Manager Leah Byrne said: “Some disabilities are not immediately obvious and the sunflower lanyards are a great way of bringing to our attention passengers or visitors to the airport who need a little extra assistance.

“We joined the nationally recognised sunflower scheme this year and had previously operated with our own version of the lanyard. Our staff have been on disability awareness training but this system makes it easier to identify passengers with a condition that may need additional services or awareness.”

Airport managing director Matt Roach added: “Our goal is to deliver outstanding customer service and make everyone’s experience of Exeter Airport as comfortable and positive as possible. The lanyard scheme makes a real difference to people’s confidence and we’re delighted to see so many passengers making use of it.”

Exeter Airport recently received the highest possible rating for disability access, having been judged ‘very good’ in an independent annual survey by the Civil Aviation Authority.

To achieve a ‘very good’ classification, airports must provide high quality support on the day of travel as well as keeping in regular contact and consultation with its users.

Exeter Airport includes a quiet room for passengers who find it difficult to deal with an unfamiliar or overwhelming environment, and passengers on the autistic spectrum may book a familiarisation tour tailored to their needs before their flight.