Launched in March 2019, the Travel Unified campaign has been raising awareness on how people travelling with intellectually disabled persons can get help from airlines using a Special Service Request (SSR) booking code.
The four-digit codes, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), are used by travel agents or travellers to communicate traveller preferences and needs to the airline and is available through all (global distribution systems) GDSs.
Many airlines, airports, and hotel groups have initiatives in place to meet travellers’ individual needs if they are made aware at the time of booking.
The Travel Unified campaign, launched by Travelport, has since seen a surge globally in the use of the SSR booking code, with Africa and Asia being the most regions experiencing the increase.
When booking a ticket, a traveller selects the code, accompanied by additional descriptive free text. Once an IATA member airline has received the code, a response acknowledging the request is sent out.
IATA’s external affairs manager Linda Ristagno said: “Air travel is an integral means of transport in today’s world and all those with disabilities – visible or not – should have access to safe, reliable and dignified travel. With the approval of the IATA AGM Resolution in June, our airline members committed to improve the air travel experience for the estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide.
“The Travel Unified awareness campaign is an excellent example of a company taking a leadership role in this space, and a reminder of how the travel experience can be improved for passengers through a simple four-digit code. The correct use of DPNA (Disabled Passenger with Intellectual or Developmental Disability Needing Assistance) provides airlines with the relevant information that they need to support passengers with intellectual disabilities. We encourage the travel industry to continue to raise awareness of the code and for passengers with disabilities to know that they are always welcome on board.”