A poll of travel agents has revealed that less than a quarter are aware of a special booking code which can alert airlines of when a passenger has a learning disability and requires assistance.
Carried out by travel commerce platform Travelport, the poll revealed that 24% of travel agents are aware of the DPNA Special Service Request (SSR) after discovering the low frequency of use of the code on reservation networks. Despite more than 250 million flights being booked using this system in 2018, the code was used just 4,309 times that year.
President and CEO of Travelport Gordon Wilson is aware of how difficult travel can be for people who require assistance, and hopes the company’s campaign to promote the booking code will result in a rise in awareness amongst both travellers and booking agents, especially in light of the upcoming Special Olympics.
He said: “We hope this campaign will not only make a difference in the travel industry but act as a catalyst for other organizations to investigate how their industry or the industry they serve can better support people with intellectual disabilities and make improvements where needed.”
Emma Hawkins, director of education at Jigsaw Trust, has first-hand experience of the assistance provided to passengers, having travelled with her stepson who lives with autism spectrum disorder.
She said: “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that airports and airlines can apply that is going to improve the travel experience for people like my stepson. This is why the ability to enter specific details of both the passenger’s intellectual disability and the assistance needed when booking a flight goes a long way to setting expectations upfront.”
Travelport’s six-month-long campaign will see more than 100,000 travel agents in 30 countries prompted with reminders of the code when booking trips to some of the world’s most popular destinations, including New York and London. They will also see them when booking trips to or from the United Arab Emirates for this year’s Special Olympics World Summer Games.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine
Image: Flickr/Sean MacEntee