Wellington Airport launch sunflower lanyard to help people with hidden disabilities

10 Dec 2020

If you, or someone you are travelling with has a disability that isn’t immediately obvious to airport staff, such as; autism, dementia, a hearing impairment, anxiety (or one of the many hidden disabilities), there is now a discreet way to let Wellington Airport staff know you may need extra help, thanks to a new initiative being launched this week in partnership with Autism NZ.

Anyone travelling through Wellington Airport can now request a sunflower lanyard before they travel. The lanyards, which are bright green in colour and decorated with a sunflower design, are entirely voluntary and will indicate to staff that a passenger may:

  • Need more time to process information or more time to prepare themselves at security
  • Need clearer verbal instructions, as it can be difficult to understand facial expressions and/or body language
  • Need help reading departure boards or signs
  • Always need to stay with family or friends
  • Be exempt from wearing a facemask if they have a hidden disability which prohibits them from wearing a mask
  • Benefit from a comprehensive briefing on what to expect as they travel through the airport

Wellington Airport is the first airport in New Zealand to launch the Hidden Disability initiative, which was first introduced in the UK and is gradually being rolled out globally.

Matthew Palliser, Head of Operations at Wellington Airport, said “Airports are busy environments that can be stressful for some travellers, particularly for those with disabilities that aren’t immediately obvious to airport staff. The new lanyard initiative will make it much easier for our staff to recognise when passengers may need extra help and we hope it will ensure all travellers have a positive experience at Wellington Airport”.

Dane Dougan, Chief Executive at Autism NZ, said “We are incredibly excited to be working with Wellington Airport on this initiative. The use of the lanyards will ensure our community feels confident and comfortable when travelling through the airport, which can be a time of heightened stress. For many people, autism isn’t apparent which means creating understanding and awareness of their personal needs can be difficult. The lanyards are an instantaneous indication of a person’s needs, and we are confident they will improve the airport experience for our community”.

Sunflower lanyards are available by emailing Passengers should get in touch at least one week before they fly.

For more information about the lanyards, visit our hidden disabilities webpage