May 11, 2013

Burbank’s First Ever Wings for Autism event

Our Burbank team recently participated in their first ever Wings for Autism—an event our Boston Crewmembers have been involved with since May 2011, originally introduced by the Charles River Center and ARC.

In partnership with Pacific Child and Family Associates, an organization that supports children and adults diagnosed with autism and other disabilities, the Burbank team welcomed approximately 200 participants to Terminal A. Just like in Boston, these families practiced checking in, going through security, and boarding the aircraft.

Our General Manager in Burbank Christine reports that the event was a huge success, and struck an emotional chord with our crewmembers; everyone was so touched to see these families so grateful for the experience. We have received many letters of appreciation from participants, and photos from the day.

Participant Letter

I just wanted to express my deepest thank you to JetBlue and their staff for such an amazing time with Wings for Autism. My son, David, had a blast. He was seated in the front row of the aircraft and asked a million questions. He has had anxiety of flying and this really helped him start over coming that fear. In fact, he now sees it a fun experience after all. Peace is a priceless gift, and I think JetBlue and Wings for Autism helped my son attempt to achieve it. Thank you again.

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May 4, 2013

Wings For Autism Takes Flight at Burbank Airport Today

We’re expanding our Wings For Autism program, originally introduced by the Charles River Center and ARC, by bringing the initiative to Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport for the first time. Wings For Autism practices air travel in a realistic and compassionate way. These rehearsal field trips help families practice going through TSA security and allow time for them to become familiar with the boarding process and the interior of an airplane. Most of all, Wings For Autism provides families with the time, resources and compassion for their children to become more comfortable with this new experience.

Today, more than 200 people from the Los Angeles area will participate in the first Wings For Autism event at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. We’ve partnered with Pacific Child and Family Associated and TSA for this event and crewmembers from Burbank, Long Beach and Las Vegas will be on hand to help families throughout the process.

Wings for Autism from JetBlue on Vimeo.

For the past three years, we’ve partnered with The Charles River Center and TSA to offer the Wings For Autism program in Boston, MA.  The program started with the Littlejohn family after a failed attempt at a family trip to Florida. To date, more than 400 families in the Boston area have had the opportunity to rehearse the travel experience and see if travel is feasible for their families.

We’re working with local organizations and airport authorities to roll this program out to other airports throughout its 77 city network.

To sign up for the Burbank “Wings For Autism event,” families can contact Arpi Arabian at Pacific Child and Family at arpiarabian@pacificchild.com.

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April 10, 2013

Photos: Wings for Autism Takes Flight


Over the weekend, the fifth Wings for Autism took place at Logan airport. The event began in May 2011, and our airline hasn’t missed one opportunity to get involved in this unique program. Each year, we partner with Massport, TSA, and other airlines to practice the airport experience with families of autistic children.

From checking in at the ticket counter and going through security to the boarding process, these moms and dads have the opportunity to show their autistic child firsthand every step of travel. Familiarizing the children, who are often scared of an airport’s hustle and bustle, reduces stress on the actual day of their journey. For the event, we opened up one of our A320 aircraft, giving the children a feel for sitting on a plane, fastening a seatbelt, and being served by an inflight crewmember. No aircraft on-the-ground experience would be complete without a peak inside the cockpit, and our volunteer pilots welcomed the children inside their world.


Since 2011, we’ve helped 1,500 families get comfortable with traveling with an autistic child, and this year alone saw more than 300 families in attendance. The next event will take place in November – stay tuned for details.

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November 10, 2012

2012 Wings for Autism Event in Boston

Our Wings for Autism event took place in Boston last Saturday, when we helped numerous families practice the travel experience from start to finish. This is our fourth time partnering with Massport, the TSA, and the Charles River Foundation to support this unique opportunity for children with autism and their families. More than 175 people came out to participate in the event.

Many parents dream of whisking their children off on a fun-filled family vacation, but haven’t made the attempt because they’re worried about how their autistic son or daughter will react to the hectic airport environment. From the buzz of people rushing from A to B, to the security process and boarding an aircraft, the whole experience can be overwhelming for an autistic child.

Wings for Autism aims to minimize these fears by giving families access to different aspects of air travel, all without leaving the airport:

  • The check-in process
  • TSA screening
  • Boarding
  • Preparing for take-off
  • Deplaning

Family testimonial

Here’s letter from some grateful parents to our Boston General Manager Norbert about their experience at Wings for Autism:

“First, I want to thank you and all of the people involved with putting on an outstanding event at Logan. My wife and I were blown away with how well the event was organized, and the seamless execution. Most of all, we were so impressed with how friendly, polite, and engaging everyone was. We felt so welcome and our boys had a great time.

We had always thought of JetBlue as a first class airline, but Wings for Autism confirmed it for us! Thank you again for all that you did for our boys, and I look forward to doing more business with JetBlue going forward as my way of thanking your company for their involvement in Wings for Autism.”

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May 21, 2012

Wings For Autism Takes Flight For Third Year


On Saturday, our third Wings for Autism event took place at our Boston station and close to 500 participants turned out. For many families, this was the first time they stepped inside an airport—let alone board a plane—since welcoming an autistic child into their family; that meant 15 or more years for some people. Since airports can be intimidating for children with disabilities, some parents feel limited in their travel options and saw Wings for Autism as an opportunity to work through the challenges.


The Wings for Autism event was created to offer a safe environment for families to practice traveling with an autistic child, and be surrounded by others in similar situations. By getting comfortable with the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport!), both parents and their children with special needs could gain the familiarity and confidence needed to fly for real when the time comes. Here’s what was practiced:

  • The check-in process
  • TSA screening
  • Boarding
  • Preparing for take-off
  • Deplaning


The families also received a safety briefing and toured the flight deck with our Captains and First Officers!

 

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November 22, 2011

Wings for Autism Event In Boston Helps Families Fly

More than 400 people turned out for our second Wings for Autism event at our Boston station this past Saturday. For many families, this was the first time they stepped inside an airport, let alone onboard a plane (which meant 10 years for some people).

The idea behind Wings for Autism was to create a safe environment for families to take on the challenges of traveling with an autistic child and be surrounded by those in similar situations. By practicing the airport and flight experience (without actually leaving the airport!), both parents and their children with special needs can gain the familiarity and confidence needed to fly for real when the time comes. Families, alongside our crewmembers, practiced:

  • The check-in process
  • TSA screening
  • Boarding
  • Preparing for take-off
  • Deplaning

The families also received a safety briefing and toured the flight deck with one of our captains and first officers!

Below is a sample of the positive feedback our Boston team received after participating in Wings for Autism, just one of many more rave reviews that have come through:

“I cannot thank you enough for your assistance in making our ‘surprise’ trip to Disneyworld so successful, especially for our son. From the guided tour and plane visit on 10/1 to the ease of going through security and getting settled on the plane on the day of our trip, our vacation was amazing and we have you (and countless other JetBlue employees) to thank. For an autistic child the unknown can be very scary and stressful, and because of you our son was excited and ready from the start. I have been sharing our story with friends and family and encouraging them to fly JetBlue when they travel in the future – I know we will.”


Thank you for our Boston Crewmembers for their  outstanding support of this cause!

Learn about our first Wings for Autism event held in Boston back in May, 2011.

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May 17, 2011

Crewmembers support Wings for Autism Day at BOS

As Boston’s largest carrier and a company known for its caring Crewmembers, we were the obvious choice when Massport was looking for an airline partner for a special community service event it was planning. On Saturday, May 14, we participated in Massport’s first ever “Wings for Autism Day” supporting the Charles River Center for Autistic Children. The event centered on a field trip to Boston Logan for families with autistic children, which allowed them to get familiar with air travel in a realistic, but low pressure setting.

To facilitate the special day, a group of Crewmember volunteers checked in the families to a faux flight. Then, after the families had passed through security, Crewmembers boarded them on a parked aircraft that had been reserved for the occasion by System Ops.

The day proved to be incredibly moving and was an excellent experience for both the volunteers and the participants.

“Wings for Autism Day” was conceived after the Littlejohn family had an unfortunate experience en route to Disney World last year. After getting through security, the Littlejohns’ autistic son Henry became extremely agitated, and he and his mother were unable to fly and join the rest of the family on the vacation. Thanks to Saturday’s practice run and our compassionate Crewmembers, the Littlejohn family and many others who participated should feel a lot more comfortable next time they fly.

Related:
Boston Globe recap
The Charles River Center

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April 2, 2013

Making Travel Possible For Families Affected By Autism

We’re pleased to announce our next “Wings For Autism” event. For the past three years, our Boston crewmembers have volunteered their time to introduce the possibility of travel to children with autism spectrum disorders.

Autism now affects one in 88 children. Taking a family vacation with a child with autism can be stressful and for many families it is often an impossible dream. Anxiety, long lines, loud noises and unfamiliarity all come into play when navigating through the airport. “Wings For Autism” not only allows families to practice the boarding process, but the program also provides families with the time, resources and compassion for their children to become more comfortable with this new experience.  We work closely with The Charles River Center to train crewmembers to meet both the anticipated as well as unexpected needs of families traveling with a child with special needs.

“Wings For Autism” experiential field trips allow families to get familiar with air travel in a realistic, yet relaxed setting. The trips include:

  • Trained JetBlue crewmembers providing assistance throughout the process
  • The use of a stationary JetBlue aircraft for families to practice the boarding process
  • Time for families to become familiar with a plane’s interior
  • The opportunity to meet the pilots and inflight crewmembers
  • Family activities, unlimited JetBlue snacks, and more

The Boston “Wings For Autism” program will take place on Sat. April 6 from 9am to 1 pm. Families interested in participating, should visit Charlesrivercenter.org.

Check out our previous “Wings For Autism” events

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May 18, 2012

JetBlue Is “Doing Good in the Neighborhood”

In addition to flying people to their friends, family for work and for play around our 71-city network and providing excellence in customer service, part of our mission to “bring humanity back to air travel,” involves engaging our crewmembers to do acts of volunteerism in their communities and the communities that we serve.

Our Boston crewmembers deliver the $10,000 check to The Jimmy Fund

In the spring of 2011, our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team (who works to identify and organize support for worthy causes like our One Thing That’s Green environmental initiatives, our Soar With Reading campaign to promote children’s literacy, and Race for the Cure to support breast cancer awareness, to name a few), launched JetBlue Community Connection to reward and recognize crewmembers for their volunteerism, and to align our corporate giving with crewmembers’ passions. For every 25 hours any crewmember volunteers, we will donate one round trip flight to the non-profit organization of their choice. In addition to flight rewards, crewmembers can earn grants and be recognized for their efforts at the annual Community Connection crewmember awards dinner.

On March 7, 2012, we hosted the first annual event, with more than 100 crewmembers from across the JetBlue network gathering to celebrate the volunteer accomplishments of the past year. In addition to the individual awards, we presented one team, or BlueCity, with an award for their outstanding efforts. The 2011 award went to Boston, for their Wings for Autism program which benefited the Charles River Center for Autistic Children. The event centered on a field trip to Logan Airport for families with autistic children, which allowed them to get familiar with air travel in a realistic, but low pressure setting.

For their efforts, we awarded the team a $10,000 grant to the non-profit of their choice, and they selected The Jimmy Fund, which supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“We are thrilled to be the beneficiaries of JetBlue’s generosity,” said Suzanne Fountain, Director of the Jimmy Fund.  ”The Boston crew’s hard work, commitment, and devotion to the community and our cause is inspiring.  On behalf of all of our patients, families, caregivers and researchers, we thank everyone at JetBlue for their support.”

Learn more about JetBlue’s commitment to the communities we serve

 

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April 2, 2012

Today is World Autism Awareness Day

The United Nations recognizes today as World Autism Awareness Day to “highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.”

Our third annual Wings for Autism event will be held in Boston on May 19 with the goal of helping to create a safe environment for families taking on the challenges of traveling with an autistic child. By practicing the airport and flight experience, including going through TSA security and boarding an aircraft (without actually leaving the airport!), both parents and their children with special needs can gain the familiarity and confidence needed to fly for real when the time comes.


Learn more about Wings For Autism

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