Gatwick is the first UK airport to open sensory room for passengers

Gatwick Airport has recently opened a sensory room in an attempt to help calm passengers who feel overwhelmed in busy and unfamiliar airport surroundings.

The new space sits in the North Terminal and is designed specifically for people with autism, dementia, cognitive impairment or other special needs.

What is it?

Passengers using the room have the opportunity to manipulate the lighting to create a range of different looks and feels for the room; you can transform the space into a calming and relaxing environment or a stimulating interactive space full of light and sound with just the flick of a switch. The room also comes equipped with a ‘chill-out zone’ filled with floor cushions, bean bags and digital display panels, which generate colourful visual wall features.

Andy Pule, Gatwick Airport head of terminal operations, said: “We recognise airports can be stressful environments for some passengers, which is why we are extremely proud to offer this new space for them to relax in and enjoy before their flight. Gatwick is committed to providing passengers who have a disability of any kind with the support and services required to ensure their time at the airport is as comfortable as possible and this remains a key area of focus for the airport.”

The facilities also come with a seperate ‘interactive zone’ which looks to stimulate the senses using a great range of tactile panels, textures and a game to improve memory, motor skills and encourage learning. The room is free to all passengers departing from the airport, with 45 minute sessions available to book from the assistance desk found after security.

What do Gatwick Airport have to say?

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “A calming space like this can help autistic people to decompress and relax before departure, helping them to better manage their anxiety during the flight. Supportive spaces like these play an essential role in opening up the world for autistic people and their families.”

The area has capacity to seat up to 90 people, providing plenty of opportunities for passengers to experience the premium lounge feel pre flight, without being surrounded by too many people.

Maria Cook, Autism Ambassador for Gatwick Airport, said: “I cannot thank the whole team involved in this project enough for making it a reality. Working closely with Gatwick I explained the vast benefits of having such a wonderful facility available and the positive impact it has for people with complex conditions and their families and they did not hesitate to create something very special indeed. It is the most amazing sensory room I have ever seen.”

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