Dear JetBlue: I Cannot Believe What Happened to My Son With Autism On Your Airline

Out of desperation, this autism mom chose JetBlue for her child’s flight…and this is what happened.

Dear JetBlue Airlines,

I am writing this post to thank you.

My son has autism and, because of the custody arrangement between his father and me, we fly 7-9 times a year out of sheer necessity. Flying, with all of its loud announcements and crowded waiting areas and unusual smells, is quite frankly torture for him. He has acute sensory processing issues that affect us even in simple every day situations, so you can imagine how complicated airports and airplanes are for us.

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In the past, we have flown other airlines. It has not gone well. As my son was literally banging his head on the wall in the boarding area, I once had the gate agent question why I was asking for early boarding for a child clearly over 5. When I explained that the constant boarding announcements and large crowd were extremely difficult for us, she allowed me to board early, but finished her interaction with me saying, “Just this once,” as if I were getting away with something.

(Incidentally, this occurred after I had already called the airline a week before to request this special service. After being put on hold and then transferred, I was told to just speak to the gate agent and it wouldn’t be a problem.)

Unfortunately, this has been the case with every airline we have flown…except with Jet Blue.

I needed to fly my son home yesterday. I went online and determined that if we used an airport a bit further from our home, we would be able to try Jet Blue.

I was immediately impressed that the Jet Blue online booking system allowed me to include information about his special needs when I booked the ticket.

So simple. No expectation of calling and being put on hold. No extra requirements. No having to educate a phone representative about high functioning autism and sensory issues. Nope, I just checked a box and included a few comments.

That alone was worth the extra drive time to the airport with Jet Blue.

I called ahead of time anyway (maybe because I just couldn’t believe it would be so easy). I spoke with a sweet, friendly phone rep who not only moved our seats to the middle of the plane when she heard the smells of the bathrooms are tough for my son, she also informed me that she placed a note for “silent boarding” in our reservation. She told me that before a single announcement was made, the gate agent would come and personally escort us to the gate for essentially pre-preboarding.

No announcements. No huge line of harried travelers. No head banging before we even get on the plane.

When I hung up the phone, I was in relieved, grateful tears.

When we got to the airport yesterday and checked in, the agent asked if we would like a meet and assist to get through security more easily. I was floored.

I declined, because I know how busy your employees are, and my son really only requires assistance when it comes to the boarding area. We may not have used the service, but I was totally impressed by the offer.

Just before boarding,the gate agent sweetly escorted us to the gate as promised. We boarded the plane before anyone else, and had my son’s headphones on before the noise and craziness of boarding the plane began.

Throughout the flight, your attendants also went out of their way to be understanding and kind. It was obvious they had been informed of the information in our reservation, and were so gracious in ensuring my son was comfortable.

When he started to meltdown because he wanted a different drink than what was on the menu, the attendant told him he would wait as long as necessary for him to make another decision – no rush. My son calmed down, smiled and ordered a ginger ale.

It was exactly what he needed.

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So, thank you.

Thank you from an already overwhelmed, tired, fighting for her son every day of her life, momma.

Thank you on behalf of an eleven year old boy who struggles to cope in a world that just doesn’t understand or easily accommodate him.

Thank you from a now lifetime Jet Blue customer.

With much respect and gratitude,

Shawna

(Dear Readers – Please know, I wrote this out of sheer gratitude. This is in no way an advertisement for Jet Blue nor was I compensated in any way for this post. I do think you should fly them – every single time you fly. But that’s just my opinion based on my own experience described above.)

This post originally appeared at Not The Former Things.

Shawna Wingert
Shawna Wingert is a wife to a wacky, voice actor husband, and a special needs momma to two uniquely challenged little boys. Passionately real, she takes an honest look at the messy and the painful, the sweet and the laughable, and how Jesus is in the midst of it all. You can find Shawna at her blog, Not the Former Things, and on Facebook.

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