Customers can now choose to wear the Sunflower lanyard to indicate that they require additional support or simply a little more time whilst travelling, as British Airways becomes the first UK carrier to recognise the sunflower lanyard scheme
What is the Sunflower lanyard?
The Sunflower lanyard is a green neck-strap with yellow sunflowers that individuals can wear to indicate that they have a non-visible disability. The initiative was established in the UK in 2016 when staff at Gatwick airport realised there wasn’t enough awareness of hidden disabilities among staff or passengers. To tackle this, the airport teamed up with UK charities to design the Sunflower, which is now widely recognised throughout the nation and worldwide. Since the pandemic, the general public has become more aware of the lanyard, as some wearers are exempt from PPE guidelines.
Hidden-disabilities training for BA staff
British Airways (BA) will be the first UK airline to recognise the lanyard and has included hidden-disabilities videos in their staff training modules. This follows several initiatives in recent years to ensure customers with additional-support needs are well catered for.
In 2018 the airline launched its “Beyond Accessibility” campaign, which provided further training on disabilities to all of their customer-facing employees.
In 2019 a dedicated team of accessibility experts was created to deal with customer enquiries.
As a result, BA have seen customer satisfaction levels double for passengers with accessibility needs. Additionally, the airline is the only airline to be awarded the Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society. To aid autistic passengers, British Airways provide a Visual Guide to Flying that describes the sights, sounds, smells and experiences one may experience on their journey.
Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, has commented:
“I am delighted that British Airways is the first UK airline to launch the Sunflower. As well as being supported at over 130 airports globally, people with non-visible disabilities wearing the Sunflower will now be supported on British Airways flights. This a significant step in our goal for Sunflower wearers to be confident to travel independently knowing that they will be supported when they need to be.”
What are your thoughts on British Airway’s new provisions for additional-support needs passengers?