Travelling Via Plane

Travelling abroad can be overwhelming for anyone, though, for Autistics, it can be even more daunting than it would be for most.

Though travelling comes with it’s unique difficulties for us Autistics, it is still very much do-able.

Having now travelled for the first time as an autistic adult, I have some advice for my fellow neurodivergents.

One thing that can be especially distressing is the transport. One big scary one for me is Planes.


Because of things like:

  • The airport waiting process
  • The noisy engines during the flight
  • Worrying that I wouldn’t get the support I need

These fears all made it more nerve wracking for my first time flying alone.

But do not fret! I have some tips for you!

Sunflower Lanyard


Most airlines and airports have a discreet sunflower lanyard that is widely recognised by staff as a symbol for invisible disabilities. This lanyard can usually be requested at the disability desk, or the reception desk (with no cost or need to pre-register for it).

The lanyard can enable you to go through seperate queues and can enable you to go into the priority queue when you reach the gate.

It also can alert staff that you might need extra assistance and patience when undergoing the processes involved when flying.

You do not have to give the lanyard back, and can use it for your return flight.

Noise


The noise of the aircraft can be a bit much, and can be extremely overstimulating for someone who is hypersensitive to sound. Though, thankfully for us, most airlines allow you to use bluetooth headphones during flights.


If you are unsure if you can use your noise cancelling bluetooth headphones, check the airlines statements online or contact the airline youre flying with if you cannot find the information readily available.

I used my noise cancelling headphones during my flight. It didn’t get rid of the noise fully, but it made it far more tolerable and pleasant, even with my seats being right above the engines.


If you are especially hypersensitive and concerned, try to get seats that are not directly next to the engines.

The airport process


If you havent been through the airport process as an adult, or at all, it can be a big factor contributing to anxiety before flying. I was lucky enough to have my dad help talk me through what would happen and where I had to go. Well, until the point where he couldn’t continue with me.

If you don’t have someone who can do this, do not fret, the staff are there to help. Once I passed onto the air side of the airport, I started to get rather nervous and flustered. But thankfully the staff were happy to answer any questions I had and guide me to where I needed to go

The waiting times


The waiting times can sometimes be daunting for autistics, especially with the chance of delays to the flight times.

I advise making a music playlist of your favourite songs, and ensuring you have something to do during these waiting times to make it go by easier and to keep yourself grounded.


I personally opted to take my Nintendo DS, a colouring book and some colouring pencils.

If you also opt to do some colouring, I would advise against gel pens as they arent usually allowed in your hand luggage. Colouring pencils or felt tips can be a good alternative.

I hope this might help other autistics with their anxieties surrounding flying. If anyone has any questions or things to add feel free to add a comment!

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