Top 3 ASD-Friendly Airports in Asia

These airports are making strides towards inclusivity for neurodivergent travelers.


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For travelers with special needs, recent improvements in the aviation industry have been greatly encouraging. If you’re planning a trip to Asia and the Middle East, Optism has identified three of the top airports that are recognized for their efforts to accommodate the unique needs of travelers with autism.

Changi Airport 


Singapore's Changi Airport has taken significant steps to support individuals with invisible disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum. As part of their commitment to inclusivity, the airport has introduced various measures to create a stress-free and inclusive travel experience.

One notable initiative is the Changi Airport Social Story, a downloadable step-by-step picture guide that outlines the entire airport process from check-in to boarding so that families can prepare for trips. 

Additionally, over 300 airport staff members have undergone inclusivity training provided by Rainbow Centre, a Singaporean NGO. These staff, known as Care Ambassadors, are easily identifiable by their badges. They are available to offer assistance to travelers with ASD and their families.

Children with ASD can also use special lanyards which, while not granting an exemption or escort through the airport, serve as a signal for staff to provide extra help and consideration as needed. Travelers should contact the airport and their airline well in advance — at least one week before travel — to inquire about additional available services.

Damon Wong, Vice President of Passenger Experience, Ground Operations, and Customer Service at Changi Airport Group, emphasizes that these initiatives “aim to create a more stress-free and inclusive travel experience for passengers.”

More information on special assistance for passengers traveling through Changi Airport can be found here. You are also advised to contact your airline. 

For more inquiries, contact Changi Airport by telephone (+65 6595 6868) or email ( 

Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore's Changi Airport has taken significant steps to support individuals with invisible disabilities.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

At Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the Butterfly Effect initiative offers services and facilities designed to support families with children on the autism spectrum and other hidden disabilities, ensuring a more comfortable travel experience.

To utilize the Butterfly Effect services, you must first register online before your visit. Upon arriving at the airport, make your way to the Airport CARE InfoCentre located on the fifth floor of the main terminal building in Terminal 1. If you are traveling via Terminal 2, visit the Airport Information Counter on the third floor. Arriving passengers can find the counter near the Aerotrain stations at the Contact Pier.

Ensure your child's identification documents indicate he/she is a person with disabilities, and carry a letter from a registered GP or hospital with the ASD diagnosis. Passengers with ASD will receive a Butterfly Kit and lanyard, which alerts staff to provide access to priority lanes at key points, including security, immigration, and customs.

If you have time before boarding, take advantage of the Calm Room offered by Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which can be accessed using the code provided in the Butterfly Kit. The room is designed to create a tranquil environment with features such as relaxing music, essential oil diffusers, and sensory-friendly games all aimed at providing individuals with a space to filter out noise and reduce stress.

Throughout the airport, Sensory Walls provide interactive tactile activities for children with ASD. You can find a full list of these walls here.

In collaboration with the Autism Behavioral Center and the National Autism Society of Malaysia, trained airport CARE Ambassadors wearing “May I Help?” sashes are available to provide extra assistance.

For more inquiries, contact Kuala Lumpur International Airport by Telephone (+603 8777 8888) or Email ( 

Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Access the serene Calm Room at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with the exclusive code from the Butterfly Kit.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

In collaboration with Emirates, Dubai International Airport is renowned for its comprehensive range of services designed to accommodate the needs of individuals with ASD, ensuring a more comfortable and supportive travel experience.

Notably, the airport offers an Autism Friendly Guide, a downloadable social story that illustrates each step of the journey from arriving at the airport to boarding the plane.  The guide also provides parents with useful information about additional services available, including the option to pre-order special meals for individuals with sensory sensitivities 48 to 24 hours in advance with your airline.

Upon arrival, travelers with hidden disabilities, also known as "People of Determination" (POD), are entitled to two hours of complimentary parking at all terminals. Additionally, Dubai Taxi offers pre-bookable, specialized taxis at a 50% discount for those presenting a POD card. For this service, please contact Dubai Taxi at Tel: 80088088.

Passengers can pick up a Sunflower lanyard at the Information Desk near entrance 2 in Terminal 3 and at collection points in Terminals 1 and 2. This lanyard is recognized by staff, who are identifiable by their sunflower pins, and signals that the wearer may require special assistance. Wearing the Sunflower lanyard grants access to an autism-friendly route, which includes priority lanes for check-in, passport control, security checks, and boarding. Companions are welcome to use this route as well.

When traveling with Emirates, passengers can request various in-flight services to accommodate their needs. For instance, individual lights can be turned off to address light sensitivity. Passengers with a declared hidden disability, as well as their companions, are entitled to select suitable seats free of charge. Additionally, children with ASD are provided with a "Fly with Me" activity pack. For those traveling in first or business class, noise-canceling earphones are available upon request. For more assistance, please contact the Emirates office here.

More information on services for POD at Dubai International Airport can be found here

For more enquiries, contact Dubai International Airport by Telephone (+971 4 224 5555) or Whatsapp.

Dubai International Airport Emirates
Support for "People of Determination" with hidden disabilities available at Dubai International Airport.

For travelers to and from Hong Kong:

If you are departing from or arriving in Hong Kong International Airport, there is a Courtesy Channel to expedite entry into the security and immigration zone. 

There are also Resting Lounges throughout the airport, locations available here. To contact HKIA staff prior to arriving at the airport, you may call +852 2181 8888 and the 24-hour hotline is +852 2275 0000.