Queenstown going extra mile for passengers with hidden disabilities
People with disabilities travelling through Queenstown Airport can now do so a little easier thanks to the introduction of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme.
Sunflower lanyards are a way for passengers to discreetly let staff know they have a non-obvious disability and may need additional support or extra time to access services, move through the airport and process important information.
The initiative was first launched in 2016 by Gatwick Airport in the UK and the Sunflower Scheme has since become a globally recognised symbol by major transportation hubs, private organisations, sporting and entertainment facilities, health and emergency providers and more.
Sara Irvine, Queenstown Airport Corporation’s general manager for corporate and community affairs, says the airport is proud to be launching this initiative and hopes it helps people to feel more comfortable travelling.
“Airports can be busy places and overwhelming at times for people,” explains Irvine. “The sunflower gives people with a non-obvious disability the option to discreetly identify themselves to the airport team knowing they will be offered support should they need it.”
Meg Thomas, chief executive of Life Unlimited says her organisation are delighted to be involved in the Hidden Disabilities programme and welcomed Queenstown Airport’s involvement.
“The Sunflower Lanyard is all about giving people an option to be confident in navigating their way around the community,” she enthuses.
“We celebrate businesses who support the Sunflower Lanyard as a way of building greater disability awareness amongst their staff and help make our community more accessible.”
The Sunflower programme is optional and passengers or visitors to the airport can visit the information desk in the main terminal to collect their free Sunflower lanyard and Sunflower card. Either those with disability, or someone travelling with them can wear the lanyard.
Queenstown Airport is the second airport in New Zealand to introduce the programme, following Wellington Airport who introduced the initiative in December 2020.
Justin Bruce from the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme says they are grateful for Queenstown Airport’s support.
“Airports can be challenging for many people with hidden disabilities including mental health challenges, chronic illnesses, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder just to mention a few,” he notes.
“By helping to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and the challenges people face every day, Queenstown Airport is helping to build a more inclusive and welcoming society for all.”
Sunflower lanyards are available for collection from the Information Desk at Queenstown Airport. Travellers can keep their lanyard for use throughout their journey and for future use. The lanyards do not need to be returned.
Queenstown Airport is currently not open to the public under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 but is open to the public under Alert Levels 2 and 1.