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Supporting airline passengers with intellectual disabilities 

Raising awareness of the SSR code DPNA


Did you know?

  • Travel can be a particularly challenging time for people with intellectual disabilities
  • Special assistance can be requested from all IATA member airlines through the Special Service Request (SSR) code DPNA (official description: Disabled Passenger with Intellectual or Developmental Disability Needing Assistance)
  • Despite registering more than 250 million flight bookings through our platform globally in 2018, and 200 million people estimated to have an intellectual disability worldwide (2.6% of the global population), the code was used just 4,309 times (approximately 0.0015% of total flight bookings)
  • It’s time we all take action
Airplane View
Special Olympics

What are we doing to help?

In the spirit of the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019, which celebrates the achievements of people with intellectual disabilities, Travelport has launched a global campaign to improve awareness and use of the SSR code DPNA.  

Our six-month long campaign will reach more than 100,000 travel agents in as many as 30 countries. Content will be displayed to travel agents more than 3.5 million times, making it one of the biggest digital media campaigns we have ever executed.  

We are also seeking to raise awareness among the intellectually disabled community through a range of initiatives across social and traditional media channels. 

Talking to travelers about intellectual disabilities

We understand it can be difficult to talk to customers about intellectual or physical disabilities. However, with many travelers across the world still unaware of the support that can be provided by airlines, among others, we believe it should become a standard part of the booking discussion.  

To ensure all parties are supported in the right way, we recommend discussing intellectual and physical disabilities in the same proactive conversation:  

“Does any of the traveling party have a physical or intellectual disability and require special assistance from the airline?” 

Team of Special Olympics

Applying the DPNA SSR code


If a passenger has an intellectual disability and requires additional support from an IATA member airline, simply add the SSR code DPNA to their booking and, via the free text box, submit a short description of their disability and the support they require.


If you are applying the code using the drop down SSR menu on Travelport Smartpoint, to activate the free text box, please press the ‘tab’ key.


Once the DPNA code and supporting text has been shared with the airline, it will respond to confirm the code and request have been registered.

Creating a better travel experience for passengers with intellectual disabilities

In this blog, Emma Hawkins, Director of Education at Jigsaw Trust (a registered charity that provides facilities, services and resources to educate and support people with autism) shares first-hand experience of what it’s like to travel with a family member who has Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her story is a powerful reminder why it’s so important that greater awareness is created around the “DPNA” SSR code.

Read the story
Gordon Wilson

“Travel can be a particularly challenging time for people who require special assistance, so once we discovered such low use of the DPNA SSR code, we decided to take action."

Gordon Wilson | President and Chief Executive Officer, Travelport  

What other SSR codes are available?

SSRs cover a wide range of items, from flagging that an infant will travel on a passenger’s lap to highlighting a passenger requires a wheelchair.  

The full list of IATA’s SSR codes is included in recommended practice 1708 within the Passenger Services Conference Resolutions Manual (PSCRM). If your agency does not possess an up-to-date copy of the manual, one can be purchased from the IATA website.

Intellectual disabilities

What are intellectual disabilities?

According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, an individual has intellectual disability if he or she meets three criteria:  

  • IQ is below 70-75 
  • There are significant limitations in two or more adaptive areas (skills that are needed to live, work, and play in the community, such as communication or self-care) 
  • The condition manifests itself before the age of 18.

About Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019

The Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019 takes place between Thursday 14 March and Thursday 21 March in the United Arab Emirates.  

The Games celebrates the abilities and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities and aims to foster a new global vision of acceptance. It will feature 7,000 athletes representing a record 170 countries. They will come to Abu Dhabi to demonstrate their skill and determination on the field of play in 24 sports, while more than 500,000 spectators cheer them on and millions more fans around the globe are connected to every race and event. 

Olympic fire

Learn more about Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3 million athletes in over 180 countries in all regions of the world providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.