Press Release Article


Date: Apr 28, 2017
Press Release Number: 79-2017

Partnering with the New York chapter of The Arc, Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Port Authority will host a "Wings for Autism" event at LaGuardia Airport on Saturday, April 29, to help familiarize autistic youngsters with air travel procedures.

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and The Arc, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has made improving the travel experience for autistic children and their families a longstanding priority through the Wings for Autism program.

Volunteers will assist autistic children and their parents from their point of entry into an airport terminal for ticketing and baggage check-in, continuing on through the security checkpoint and into the gate area before boarding a plane.

"Navigating an airport can be extremely difficult for families with an autistic child, and Wings for Autism helps them become accustomed to the process from start to finish," said Port Authority Commissioner Jeffrey Lynford, who has a daughter with autism.

Lynford and his wife, Tondra, a trustee of the Anderson Foundation for Autism, are active advocates for autism awareness. "We understand the difficulties faced every day when caring for a child with autism and we appreciate the volunteers and everyone else who makes this event possible," he said.

"The Port Authority is grateful to The Arc, the volunteers and our airport stakeholders for making this event a success for families in need," said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. "We are proud to participate in these events, and look forward to hosting it every year."

"Air travel can prove particularly challenging between clearing security, the overwhelming noises, and harsh lights," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. "This program will not only alleviate the stress children and their parents may feel, but help educate airport and airline professionals about how best to serve children with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities in the future."

"Many travelers don’t give a second thought to the busy-ness of an airport. But for children on the autism spectrum, it can be overwhelming," said Delta’s Henry Kuykendall, Vice President-New York. "Delta is committed to making the flying experience better for everyone. We are proud to partner on events like these that help kids with autism better acclimate to the air travel experience."

"The TSA officers who participate in this event are always happy to be able to assist families with the opportunity to practice going through the security screening process," said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for LaGuardia Airport. "We know that offering the families this familiarization experience now will help ensure a smooth checkpoint experience when they take a flight in the future. It’s a win-win all the way around."

In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, the agency earlier this month turned 128 LED lights blue on One World Trade Center's 408-foot spire, highlighting "Light it Up Blue" in commemoration of the day and to increase awareness for Autism Speaks.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit

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