Air Travel Practice For Kids With Autism

By Christina Elston

air travel autism

Passengers at Open Sky for Autism experience TSA security screening with realistic equipment. PHOTOS COURTESY AIR HOLLYWOOD

Faced with a challenging task, most of us would like a practice run before we tackle the real thing. Just in time for summer vacation, Open Sky for Autism offers a bit of practice for people with autism who might find air travel difficult.

The event takes place May 6 at Air Hollywood, a unique aviation-themed entertainment studio equipped with everything you would find in a commercial airport and on a commercial flight. Participants will experience airport arrival, check in, baggage check, TSA security screening, waiting in the departure lounge, boarding, an in-flight simulation (including some turbulence) and deplaning.

The facilities are realistic because they have been used as sets in commercials, TV shows including “blackish” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and feature films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The in-flight simulation takes place aboard an actual airplane body, and “passengers” are assisted by helpful members of the “crew” in uniform.

Expert hands-on assistance at the event is provided by REACH Services, a nonprofit that supports individuals with a variety of disabilities, and Crew Presidential, a nonprofit that involves the aviation community in creating positive change.

The simulation takes approximately one hour to complete. Doors are open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and specific “flight times” will be scheduled so that “passengers” can be accommodated in small groups. To register for the event, visit www.AirHollywood.com/events/Open-Sky-for-Autism. There is a $25 reimbursable deposit required to register, and this will be refunded immediately upon check-in at the event. Your flight time will be emailed to you when registration is complete. Arrive at the event about 15 minutes prior to your “flight time” to allow for parking and check-in.

You’ll find Air Hollywood at 13240 Weidner St., Pacoima, just 10 miles north of Burbank Bob Hope Airport. In addition to the annual Open Sky for Autism event, the facility (which boasts a large, secure parking lot) hosts classes for people struggling with fear of flying, training courses for service dogs and the Pan Am Experience, a luxury dining event that takes visitors back to the heyday of air travel.

Learn more at www.AirHollywood.com.

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