8 ways Alaska Airlines is committed to making travel more accessible

Photo taken by Ingrid Barrentine in 2019.

Alaska Airlines aims to make flying and our workplace accessible for everyone. We recognize there’s always room for improvement and continue work to create equal opportunities for our guests and employees with disabilities in the following ways:

1. Building a better future with employee ACCESS business resource group

For nearly a decade, Alaska’s business resource group ACCESS has helped promote inclusive and accessible programs and services for employees and guests with disabilities. Since its founding, ACCESS has helped with countless accessibility related changes and events that have benefited our guests and employees. ACCESS has also helped Alaska continue being a great place to work by promoting diversity & inclusion and respecting people for their differences.

2. Learning and listening from guests and experts on Alaska’s Disability Advisory Board

Gary Peterson

Alaska’s Disability Advisory Board is made up of people from outside the company, who have disabilities and vast experience in disability advocacy. Since 2018, the board has provided recommendations to create more inclusive training, policies and procedures within the company to improve travel experiences of people with disabilities, including our Next-Level Care efforts to combat COVID-19.

“We need numerous people with disabilities to advise us,” said Gary Peterson, a recent retiree and former supervisor of line maintenance. “Disabilities are very diverse, and people with even the same disability have different experiences. I have a mobility disability, so I understand what that means. With other disabilities, I may have empathy for what they go through, but I can’t totally understand until I have to live with it every day.”

3. Easing travel anxiety with technology & relaxing remedies

Last year, Alaska launched a free app in the Apple Store and Google Play called “Fly for All.” Designed for first-time flyers, unaccompanied minors and those with cognitive and developmental disabilities, including autism, the app is designed to help ease the anxiety of air travel by walking guests through the steps they’ll follow when getting ready to fly. Since its creation, the app has been downloaded by over 20,000 people.

On a related note, if guests are overwhelmed while flying they can enjoy relaxing remedies like our free Headspace meditation sessions via Alaska’s onboard entertainment or calming lavender scented EO sanitizing wipes which are a couple ways we’re providing Next-Level Care to our everyone onboard.

4. Offering accessible travel options

While Alaska recognizes guests are experts when it comes to their needs, our employees are there to assist every step of the way from boarding, in the air and anywhere in between. We offer many accessible travel services and accommodations to make travel easier, which can be found on alaskaair.com.

5. Organizing airport, flight tours for families in the autism community

Alaska employees come together every year in various cities around the country to offer guests with cognitive and developmental disabilities including autism and their families the chance to go through the steps of air travel in a realistic, relaxed environment without ever leaving the airport.

Photo taken by Ingrid Barrentine at an event last year.

During October, which is Disability Employment Awareness Month, we partner with airports and disability partners to offer unique guided tours that cover the check-in and security process, to waiting at the gate area and boarding an Alaska aircraft. Wings for Autism in Washington and Ability to Fly in California and others in Oregon and Alaska are temporarily on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

6. Traveling with a trained emotional support animal or service animal

Alaska routinely collaborates with Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions for Independence to provide airport access for puppies in training, partners with the Paralyzed Veterans of America to improve employee education for the proper handling of guests’ mobility devices, and is working with Open Doors Org, United Spinal Association, to increase the hiring of individuals with disabilities and provide inclusive travel experiences for our guests with disabilities.

7. Making travel almost entirely touch-free

With hygiene and safety concerns top of mind, we’ve made it easy for your travels to be almost entirely touch-free. With the Alaska mobile app, you can check in for your flight, generate a mobile boarding pass and so much more. Plus, our improved technology will soon allow us to scan boarding passes up to six feet apart, print bag tags without touching the check-in kiosk and purchase food and beverages on board using your stored payment preference.

8. Always open to feedback

We are dedicated to providing convenient and comfortable service for all our guests. If you have concerns regarding discrimination, accommodations, or services for any guests with disabilities we welcome you to directly share your feedback with us.