SLO County Airport Event Supports Passengers with Disabilities

Nov. 2, 2023

The SLO County Airport (SBP) hosted the first Able to Soar community event in partnership with Central Coast Autism Spectrum Center, Alaska Airlines, Transportation Security Administration, and Mead & Hunt. A total of 30 participants experienced Able to Soar. The purpose of the event was to show individuals that air transportation is for everyone through a guided airport tour and boarding an aircraft. It was an interactive experience filled with questions, tips & tricks, sensory tools, and solutions for all individuals, families, and caregivers that participated.

“Together, we've shown that when individuals come together with a shared purpose, we can create something truly magical. The "Able to Soar" event was a testament to the incredible impact we can make when we work as a team,” shared Courtney Johnson, Director of Airports. “Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, a priority for SBP continues to be to remove barriers for our community, make a difference in the lives of those who need it most, and to make air travel inclusive for all.”

“We know the anxiety that can be associated with travel for our guests with disabilities and their families even before they step into the airport,” said Danny Flores, Alaska Airlines director of station operations. “Every day we strive toward improving their experiences on Alaska Airlines. It’s why we find it meaningful to take part in events like Able to Soar and are grateful for the invitation from SBP to participate.”

April Lewallen, Central Coast Autism Spectrum Center (CCASC) Board President, said, "We appreciate the SLO County Airport efforts to create an inclusive space and accessible travel for all."

"The CCASC is grateful to have been part of an event that truly made a difference in people's lives. Our families are willing to take the step and travel because of Able to Soar.” Carly Spears, Executive Director for CCASC.

Able to Soar created a window to the world for event participants that had never been accessible before. At the end of the experience, one young participant softly shared, “this is the best day of my life”.