Travelport extended a campaign to encourage travel firms to make more use of a little known air fare booking code for clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
The DPNA 1 SSR Iata code instructs airlines that the customer may need special assistance and support for what could be ‘hidden’ disabilities.
Since Travelport launched its Travel Unified campaign to raise awareness of the code use of it has spiralled by 89%, with UK agents making particular use DPNA 1.
Due to the success Travelport has decided to extended the campaign until at least the end of 2019.
And as the industry marks World Tourism Today the GDS and technology provider has called for all parties in the travel industry to do more to support people with intellectual disabilities.
Emirati vlogger, Khalid Al Ameri, documented his family’s positive experience traveling from the United Arab Emirates to Bahrain on a flight with Etihad Airways, with the DPNA SSR code applied to the booking of his son, who is on the autism spectrum.
Since the video went live on Al Ameri’s Facebook page on World Autism Day, it has been viewed more than six million times, shared more than 100,000 times and received more than 10,000 messages of support.
Fiona Shanley, chief customer and marketing officer at Travelport, said: “Our purpose as a company is to build leading technology that makes the experience of buying and managing travel continually better for everyone, so raising awareness of the support available for travellers with different needs is something we all are passionate about.
“We’re encouraged by the results we’ve seen so far and our decision to extend Travel Unified until at least the end of 2019 should enable us to reach even more travellers and travel agents.
“We’d like to call on all airlines, airports, hotels and other members of the travel family to do more to ensure everyone has the travel experience they deserve, including the 200 million people worldwide with intellectual disabilities.”
SSR codes are used to communicate traveller preferences or needs to airlines. They are delivered through standardized four-letter codes defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The DPNA SSR code can be used by travel agents, among others, to alert airlines when a passenger has intellectual or developmental disability and needs assistance.
Many airlines, as well as airports and hotel groups, have initiatives in place to meet travelers’ individual needs if they are made aware at the time of booking that they require additional support.
Travelport launched its Travel Unified campaign in March 2019 after it found evidence of exceptionally low use of the code on bookings made through its global distribution system. A poll of travel agents and conversations with not for profit organisations found this was due a lack of awareness.
Linda Ristagno, external affairs manager at Iata, 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 4-digit code.
“The correct use of DPNA 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.”
Since the launch of Travel Unified, use of the DPNA SSR code on flights booked through Travelport have increased globally by 89% year-on-year.
At a regional level, use of the code on flights is now up 273% in Asia, 259% in Africa, 94% in Europe and 22% in Oceania. Use remains low in both North and South America.
As part of its campaign to raise awareness of the DPNA SSR code, Travelport has shared educational ‘sign-on alerts’ and graphical prompts more than 10 million times with hundreds of thousands of travel agents through Smartpoint system.