As part of National Autism Awareness Month, Miami International Airport (MIA) in Florida hosted its largest airport instruction and readiness tour to date with 11 families with children with disabilities in attendance.
Families who attended the MIAair tour practiced entering the airport, checking in and receiving boarding passes, going through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint, and boarding an airplane. At the end of the tour, children receive a MIAair certificate of completion and travel resource materials. The MIAair program also simultaneously provides a learning experience for airport, airline and TSA workers, in how to better serve travelers with disabilities.
Since its launch at the end of 2015, MIAair has graduated more than 30 travelers with autism and other disabilities. In developing the program, organizers have found that many families altogether avoid air travel out of fear that the airport experience would add emotional distress or disruptions to their plans.
Lester Sola, Miami-Dade aviation director, said, “The goal of the MIAair program is for everyone to experience the magic and wonder of flight, regardless of their disability. Congratulations to our newest graduates and their families, and we look forward to welcoming many more.”
Developed in partnership with the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) and the Ear Institute at UHealth, the MIAair ‘dress rehearsals’ provide disabled travelers and their family members with the opportunity to walk through an airport, from start to finish, in a safe and controlled environment.