The National Association of Counties (NACo) presented John Wayne Airport with an Achievement Award for Best in Category – Human Services for the Airport’s “Helping Hands” program. The program provides individualized assistance, easing the stress associated with airport travel for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and other hidden disabilities.
While airport travel can be a fun and exciting experience, overstimulating variables such as bright lights, noises, TSA security screening, and crowds can be especially overwhelming. John Wayne Airport launched “Helping Hands” to meet the needs of families traveling with individuals with hidden disabilities to make air travel less challenging and provide a superior guest experience for all who come through the Thomas F. Riley Terminal.
The program facilitates communication with TSA to arrange for TSA Cares assistance; coordinates with airlines to arrange special assistance; provides personalized help guiding travelers through the arrival, check-in, security, and boarding processes; and conducts pre-travel tours to help prepare for the trip. Participants are also provided with yellow bracelets to inform Airport employees that additional time and extra care may be needed.
Since its inception in November 2018, the program has fulfilled approximately 100 requests for personalized assistance or tours and continues to grow. The service is provided at no charge and is available daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program recognizes innovative and effective county government programs in 18 different categories that strengthen services for residents.