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Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

North Yorkshire...
Level Contributor
1 post
5 reviews
3 helpful votes
Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children


I'm starting to look for deals to fly to texas (Houston area) next April with my 2 boys. Both autistic, although relatively 'high functioning'. They will be 14 & 11 when we fly & younger one may have his birthday while we're out there.

I have sleep apnoea & use a cpap machine & neither of my boys are dry at night (yet).

As I have never flown by myself (someone else has always organised/been in charge), let alone with these added complications, I'm wondering what advice people can give me to help thing go as smoothly as possible.

My plans so far include: none stop flights, booking either direct through airline or via a trust worthy travel agent with experience in these issues, notifying airports in advance so we have access to quiet areas while waiting, trying to ensure we are seated together- this might be harder on way back if Mr 11 turns 12, but don't want that to be a time limiting factor. Ensuring I know the rules for extra baggage allowance for medical equipment (cpap & incontinence pants). Double checking medication rules for US (I'm on several different medications).

We're going to meet my dad & other family & really don't want things ruined because I forgot to check or mention something months before.

6 replies to this topic
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
2,614 posts
15 reviews
18 helpful votes
1. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

You might not like this as it is going to cost money but if you want to be seated together which makes complete sense I think you should pay seat reservation fee then you don’t have to worry about this a know your seats in advance. You should book directly with the airline. As far as I know BA and United are the only airlines with non stop flight from U.K. to Houston both depart from London.

Edited: 23 June 2022, 08:02
N. Idaho
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Senior Travel
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38,204 posts
112 reviews
45 helpful votes
2. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

I agree 100% with Alex. To me, this complex set of circumstances means you should not look for "deals". I am not saying to not grab a good fare if you see it but certainly pay for seat assignments. Look at the seating charts for whatever route you settle on and see if they have 3 seats across the middle vs 4 seats. I fly Delta usually (no direct flight to Houston) and the economy seats are 4 across in the middle whereas the Economy Plus seats are 3 across. In your situation it might be better if you can pay up to whatever the Economy Comfort level is for the airline you choose just to get a row to yourselves.

"notifying airports in advance so we have access to quiet areas while waiting," I'd do some research on this one ahead of time. If you are in touch with Autism Spectrum groups in UK someone may have accessed a room at either Heathrow or Gatwick and can give you specific information. I did a quick search and only came up with prayer rooms at Heathrow. I did check out the prayer room recently at Schiphol in Amsterdam but there was a person in there praying and it would not have been a good place to sit and wait while they were doing their devotions. I didn't come up with anything for Gatwick on a quick google but that doesn;t mean there isn't one.

I'd also recommend you get to the airport way earlier than you might think you should. It does depend on what the current state of affairs is for the airline industry next spring but prepare for it to not have improved much from what is happening now. I'd probably plan to get there 4 hours ahead of flight time.

I hope the trip goes well and that your boys enjoy the trip!

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
2,614 posts
15 reviews
18 helpful votes
3. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

As for seating both airlines flying direct to Texas have sets if 3 seating in economy by the window.

2 posts
4. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

This is what I have done regarding my trip. In terms of assistance, I let my airline know that I need a wheelchair to get from the desk to the aircraft. In UK airports you will find a special assistance desk, I know in Gatwick and Heathrow they have a specific lounge for those who need special assistance and their carers/family. I would look on the airports site and more than 2 days before travel, let them know of your needs. You'll want to confirm your inbound flight too so if you need assistance when returning, they can help.

Special assistance, at least in the UK, has a dedicated security lane which should ease the stress of the loud and busy environment.

I booked my seats since it is a long haul trip. It was about £50 and I am doing a layover in each direction, so 4 seat bookings total. For the small price, I would really recommend it.

Your CPAP machine shouldn't account as baggage allowance if you take it as hand luggage from the airlines I've seen as it is a medical device. So you should be able to bring it as an additional carry on with no issues. Make sure you confirm this on the airlines website, some like you to just let them know you are bringing it on board.

From my experience dealing with Expedia, I would book with the airline themselves. I was in a back and forth with them for months with the airline as they both refused to take responsibility. If you book directly, it is their problem should you have issues. Deals on travel agent sites aren't that great either. They often lie about the 'original price' vs their 'discount' of the ticket. I would rather pay the extra £100 or so if I book directly.

If you really don't want to pay for your seat choices, you could email the airline and let them know about your needs. They might accommodate you and put you together, but you might just be put at the back of the aircraft where people tend not to book seats as first choice. It is a gamble but you can decide on that.

Level Contributor
37,635 posts
62 reviews
198 helpful votes
5. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

For once I am going to suggest you look at and browse the Disneyland Paris Forum, because there are many who travel there with both Autistic Children and Adults, and lots of great advice.

Also browse this fourm, if you have not already done so (or do a search for "Autistic") and see what comes up.....

Providence, Rhode...
Level Contributor
52 posts
25 reviews
12 helpful votes
6. Re: Flying UK- Texas with 2 autistic children

Incontinence supplies (including for adults/older children) are readily available at any drugstore in the US; pack enough for the trip (including possible delays) but not for your entire trip. You should be able to carry any prescribed medications (including liquids), but don't count on being able to fill a UK prescription in the US.

I've known other people with an autistic family member who arranged a specialized tour of the airport ahead of their travel day, so the person could get familiar with the airport and the routines of flying. If it's their first flight and one or both of your kids would benefit from that, do ask.

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