Emirates Trains 24,000 Staff on Hidden Disabilities

Photo Credit: Kyle Hayes/AviationSource

UAE carrier, Emirates has trained more than 24,000 cabin crew and ground staff in hidden disabilities as World Autism Day approaches.

Emirates’ “Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities”

Photo Credit: Emirates

The program which was labeled as Emirates’ “Introduction to Autism and Hidden Disabilities”, was first launched in 2022.

The program covers a range of topics including:

  1. The UAE National Policy for People of Determination
  2. Recognizing Autism
  3. Practical tips on how to assist passengers with hidden disabilities
  4. Responding with empathy
  5. Information on the official support systems to help passengers in the airport.

The milestone has been achieved in order to better Emirates’ staff’s understanding and skills in handling passengers with hidden disabilities.

The airline partnered with its home airport, Dubai International to form a useful travel planner and autism-friendly route through the terminal to make the pre-departure experience seamless for those with hidden disabilities.

In addition, the airline has implemented a handful of thoughtful measures that will benefit passengers when they fly.

Overall, these measures don’t just cover the pre-departure experience, but also the in-flight experience.

Before the journey begins

Emirates says the airline supports passengers with hidden disabilities by providing as much information in advance as possible.


For reference, any information that passengers may need can be found on the “Accessible Travel Page” on Emirates’ website.

When booking flights, passengers with hidden disabilities will have the option for free seat selection so these passengers can find the most suitable seats for themselves.

For example, Bulkhead seats on the aircraft are the perfect choice for passengers with direct aisle access and a large amount of legroom.

In addition, passengers can pre-order meals and while this is a standard feature with Emirates if a passenger requires a special meal ahead of the flight, they will be able to request this.

As well as pre-ordering meals, passengers can also plan what to watch on Emirates’ ICE entertainment system via the app. This kind of pre-planning will reduce the stress that passengers who may be accompanied or a passenger with a hidden disability.

Some other helpful measures that are in place for passengers with hidden disabilities include being able to book with a DPNA code. This DPNA code will grant these passengers with extra support when they arrive at the terminal. Such a code can be applied to a booking in person over the phone or through a travel agent, once the hidden disability is determined.

Furthermore, passengers can also study the “Autism Friendly Guide” to Dubai International Airport, which provides a step-by-step guide with images on the journey through the airport.

Arrival at the airport

When passengers arrive at the airport, there are a range of helpful measures in place to help passengers with hidden disabilities, through Emirates’ collaboration with DXB.

Measures include complimentary free parking for 2 hours, which will help passengers of determination. People of determination taxis can also be booked via Dubai Taxi on their toll-free number.

Another measure is certain Emirates staff at the terminal will wear a Sunflower pin on their uniform. This will identify them as specially trained members of staff to assist travelers with hidden disabilities.

Passengers should make themselves known to these staff members so they can collect a sunflower lanyard and be assisted on their terminal journey.

The Autism Friendly Route has also been established at Dubai International. This will allow People of Determination a seamless experience through the terminal with access to priority lanes such as check-in, security, and boarding.

Lastly, passengers who have declared their hidden disabilities to Emirates staff will have the ability/option to either board first or last, depending on what suits them best.

Emirates Inflight Experience

Another area, in which Emirates has taken attention to detail is their in-flight experience.

Measures put in place include Emirates’ effort to ensure families with children sit together and any passengers with hidden disabilities are seated with their guardian or companion.

Although an existing feature onboard Emirates flights, passengers with aural sensory needs in First and Business Class will have access to noise-canceling headphones to block out any ambient sounds onboard, for a quieter and more relaxed flight.

On a similar note, passengers with light sensitivity can inform cabin crew members about their light sensitivity, and cabin crew will turn off the passenger’s individual light, close the window blind after takeoff and explain the lights will be dimmed once the meal service is complete.

Emirates has also included more efforts to look after small children. Such efforts include the ability for young children to ask for a “Fly with Me” activity pack.

This activity pack acts as a way for young children to be kept busy and interested throughout the flight with puzzles, coloring pencils, educational activities, drawing tutorials, and more.

Lastly is Emirates’ ICE entertainment system, which although has been a feature of Emirates’ services for years, already acts as a way to keep people with hidden disabilities content throughout the flight.

With over 5000 channels of on-demand entertainment, 1900 movies, 1500 hours of TV, music, podcasts, audiobooks, video games, and 5 channels of live TV from across the world all in 40 different languages, passengers have so much choice when it comes to entertainment onboard.

Bottom Line

Overall, Emirates has gone above and beyond to make the travel experience for people with hidden disabilities, the smoothest it can possibly be.

The airline has said, that they continue to work with a number of different stakeholders to ensure that passengers with hidden disabilities are always felt accepted, represented, included, empowered, and heard.

By Lewis Chesworth 7 Min Read
7 Min Read
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