Tampa International Airport (TPA) this week touted the early success of the its Sunflower Lanyard program that discreetly alerts airline, airport and security personnel that the wearer might be in need of additional assistance.
Launched in November 2021, the Sunflower Lanyard program at TPA is one of several dozen similar initiatives as U.S. airport to provide ways for airport staff to help guests with hidden disabilities.
“We’ve now given out close to 75 lanyards,” said Christine Phillips, TPA’s senior manager of guest services. “They seem to be requested by primarily families with autism, and they’ve been very well received.”
British travelers are more likely to request the lanyards, being more familiar with them and how they work, though Guest Services representatives don’t ask questions or require any info to be shared, TPA officials said.
This week, TPA said it will be joining a roundtable discussion with 33 other U.S. airports who use the Sunflower Lanyards. TPA for years has also offered pre-flight tours and assistance for those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with airport travel, helping guests of all ages prepare for riding shuttles and escalators, going through TSA checkpoints and even boarding the plane when an airline is willing to accommodate.
“TSA has been great working with us,” Phillips said. “They have just done an awesome job when there has been someone challenged coming through Tampa International Airport.”
The Sunflower Lanyards are available on Level 3 of the TPA Main Terminal at the Information Kiosk near Starbucks.