Wellington Airport in New Zealand has launched the sunflower lanyard initiative in partnership with Autism NZ to let airport staff know that passengers with hidden disabilities such as autism, ADHD, dementia or a visual impairment may need extra help.

Passengers travelling through the airport can now request a sunflower lanyard before they travel.

Decorated with a sunflower design, the lanyards are bright green in colour.

The voluntary lanyards will enable members of staff to know that a passenger may require more time to process information or prepare themselves at security and may need clearer verbal instructions.

The airport staff will also know if the passengers need help reading departure boards or signs, whether they need to stay with family or friends at all times, and whether they are exempt from wearing a facemask.

With this move, Wellington Airport has become the first airport in New Zealand to introduce this hidden disability initiative, which was first introduced in the UK and is now being slowly launched in airports across the world.

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Wellington Airport head of operations Matthew Palliser said: “Airports are busy environments that can be stressful for some travellers, particularly for those with disabilities that aren’t immediately obvious to airport staff.

“The new lanyard initiative will make it much easier for our staff to recognise when passengers may need extra help and we hope it will ensure all travellers have a positive experience at Wellington Airport”.

Autism NZ chief executive Dane Dougan said: “We are incredibly excited to be working with Wellington Airport on this initiative. The use of the lanyards will ensure our community feels confident and comfortable when travelling through the airport, which can be a time of heightened stress.

“For many people, autism isn’t apparent, which means creating understanding and awareness of their personal needs can be difficult. The lanyards are an instantaneous indication of a person’s needs, and we are confident they will improve the airport experience for our community.”