Travel Agent NewsTravelport launches global campaign to encourage more support for airline passengers needing special assistance.

The code you need to know to assist passengers with intellectual disabilities

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Travelport 190305
Travelport 190305

Despite registering more than 250 million flight bookings through its GDS globally in 2018, and an estimated 200 million people worldwide having an intellectual disability (2.6% of the global population), the code was used just 4,309 times (approximately 0.0015% of total flight bookings). 

Travelport has launched a global campaign to improve awareness and use of the DPNA Special Service Request (SSR) code, which can be used by travel agents, among others, to alert airlines when a passenger has intellectual or developmental disability and needs assistance.

The campaign was initiated after Travelport found evidence of exceptionally low use of the code on bookings made through its global distribution system. 

Despite registering more than 250 million flight bookings through its GDS globally in 2018, and an estimated 200 million people worldwide having an intellectual disability (2.6% of the global population), the code was used just 4,309 times (approximately 0.0015% of total flight bookings). 

A poll of 136 of travel agents, conducted by Travelport, revealed just 24% know the code exists. 

Travelport’s six-month long campaign will reach more than 100,000 travel agents in more than 30 countries. It features electronic direct mails (EDMs) as well as ‘sign on alerts’ and graphical ‘prompts’ delivered through the company’s flagship Travelport Smartpoint tool.

The EDMs and ‘sign on alerts’ are being shown to its travel agent partners globally, while the ‘prompts’ are activated when a consultant is at the booking stage of a flight to over 30 of the most popular destinations in the world.

The ‘prompts’ are also being shown when any flight is about to be booked to or from the United Arab Emirates, the country hosting the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019 this month. 

Travelport has also created a campaign webpage, which provides guidance for travel agents on talking to travellers about intellectual disabilities and associated assistance.

The digital media used to reach travel agents during the campaign is typically sold by Travelport to travel providers, like airlines and hotels, as advertising space. The company has allocated over US$100,000 worth of slots for the DPNA SSR code awareness campaign, which will run until August 31, 2019.

Gordon Wilson, president and CEO of Travelport, said, “Travel can be a particularly challenging time for people who require special assistance, so once we discovered such low use of the DPNA SSR code, we decided to take action. 

“We hope this campaign will not only make a difference in the travel industry but act as a catalyst for other organisations to investigate how their industry or the industry they serve can better support people with intellectual disabilities and make improvements where needed.” 

Asim Arshad, group CEO at Orient Travel and Tourism Agency said, “SSR codes play an important role in ensuring that our customers receive the best possible flight experience and all need to be considered in the booking process. 

“We are happy to act on this initiative and ensure that all of our consultants, as a standard part of the booking discussion, ask customers if any of the traveling party has an intellectual or physical disability and needs special assistance from the airline. 

“Asking the question is the first step to ensuring appropriate support is provided. We encourage all travel agents across the world to follow suit.”

The Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019, which  starts in Abu Dhabi on Thursday and runs until March 21, will feature 7,000 athletes representing a record 170 countries.

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