Hidden Disabilities

Airports are busy environments and can be stressful for many people, particularly if you are unsure what to expect on the day.

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) we can now provide you with a hidden disability lanyard to wear on your journey through the airport.

The lanyard is also called the “sunflower lanyard” because of its appearance – a strip of green with a pattern of yellow sunflowers.

By wearing a lanyard, our staff will recognise you have a hidden disability and may need a little extra help or time. However, they won’t know what your specific disability is or the challenges or issues you may face. If you do have special requirements, please contact us before you travel by calling 04 385 5100 or speak to one of our friendly members of staff at the airport when you arrive.

Below we have provided information about the lanyards and some useful resources to help you understand what to expect when you travel through the airport.


About the lanyard

The Sunflower Lanyard Program is widely used in the UK and is gradually being rolled out globally. Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown Airports also offer Hidden Disability lanyards.

The purpose of the lanyard is to give people with hidden disabilities a discreet way to let airport staff know they have an invisible disability such as autism, ADHD, dementia or a visual impairment, without having to tell staff.

What to expect when you are wearing a lanyard

Our airport staff are trained to recognise the sunflower lanyard and to provide you with any help you may need at the different stages of your journey through the airport. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed, staff can slow down the process for you, keep things quiet and offer extra assurance.


What the lanyard does not do

The lanyard does not entitle you to fast track or jump queues but where possible staff will move you to the front of a queue or direct you to the shortest queuing lane.

It also does not provide you with a personal staff escort through the airport. If you require wheelchair assistance, please contact your airline directly to pre-arrange this service.

How to get a lanyard

If you think the lanyard would be good for you, a friend or family member, please email at least one week before you fly. We post this to you so you have it when you arrive at the airport. Please also email us the following information:

  1. Your postal details
  2. Your flight booking
  3. A brief explanation of what your Hidden Disability is

You do not need to provide proof of your disability to apply for your lanyard. And, once you get one, it is yours to keep and use for future journeys or outings where the scheme is recognised.

When you wear the Lanyard please do not remove this as you go through Airport Security as they need to identify you have a hidden disability and process you accordingly.

It’s also a good idea to contact your airline and make sure they are aware of any special assistance requirements you may have.

Planning your journey