Navigating MSP Airport
Many families who have children with autism avoid flying because they are unsure how their children will respond. In an effort to ease the anxiety associated with an airport visit and flying, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), Fraser and the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) have teamed up to create the Navigating MSP Airport (formerly Navigating Autism) program. The program includes monthly events, all designed specifically for individuals with autism, that guide families through the steps of an airport visit, from walking in the door to finding their seats on a plane.
During the Navigating MSP Airport event, families will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with airport and travel procedures. Children will practice entering the airport, obtain a security pass, go through screening at a TSA security checkpoint and walk through the airport to a boarding gate. To culminate their experience, children and their families will board an aircraft and find their seats. Please note that the aircraft will remain on the ground.
In addition to preparing families for a positive travel experience, the Navigating MSP Airport program also will provide a valuable training and awareness opportunity for airport, airline and TSA personnel to learn how to accommodate children with autism and other special needs.
Families are invited to participate in any of the Navigating MSP Airport event sessions, scheduled for the first Saturday of every month. Join MAC, Fraser and AuSM for a fun, safe practice run, while learning from airport personnel what works and what doesn't work to make your travel experience efficient and less stressful.
A note from a Navigating MSP Airport participating family:
We had an amazing time on the tour. We were warmly greeted and taken on a very informative tour with a great tour guide. Meeting the pilot and boarding the plane was awesome. When our son got on the plane, the noise was a bit overwhelming, and when he sat down in his seat, he said he didn’t think he would be able to fly on our upcoming trip. BUT, after spending some time on the plane and hearing from the captain, his anxiety began to subside. I know he will still be anxious when we leave, but he has a familiarity with the process now that will help make our trip more successful.
We are SO very grateful to you and the other organizations who sponsored this event. Thank you for your work in supporting ASD children and families in our great state!
- Heidi S.
Navigating MSP Airport Schedule
Please register for one session only as registering for multiple sessions and only participating in one will limit other families' abilities to participate. Sessions are popular and will fill quickly. These events are being offered free of charge, and require pre-registration. Click on the button below to view upcoming dates and to register for the session that fits with your schedule.
Click here for tips to help you prepare for your airport visit and trip (pdf). Information provided by Rich Kargel, Delta Airlines Pilot and father of a child with autism.
Click here to see the Going to the Airport Social Story, a tool to help your child prepare for his/her airport visit.
The MSP Airport has a special Traveler's Assistance Program that helps those with special needs. Information booths, located strategically throughout Terminal 1-Lindbergh, are staffed by hundreds of volunteers dedicated to providing quality information and services to thousands of travelers every day. Click here to learn more about this program.