Airlines increasing training to help vision impaired travelers

Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines and Blind Travels logos

 airlines are finally starting to up their game when it comes to visually impaired travelers. Recently, Travel + Leisure reported that Virgin Atlantic are revamping their training for cabin crews to better support visually impaired travelers with Guide Dogs. Virgin Atlantic is partnering with the Guide Dogs charity ( to offer a “more inclusive air travel experience for those with sight loss,”. According to Travel + Leisure: “The training will focus on how best to approach passengers with sight loss, how to help them navigate narrow spaces and stairs, and how to assist them to take a seat. The training will also address the best place for guide dogs to rest on long trips.” Whether in a restaurant, or on a plane, the lack of training when it comes to interacting with visually impaired travelers is painfully apparent, just seeing These organizations move toward improving their service is great news for travelers with sight loss.

My Experiences

I’m visually impaired, and own and serve as the chief content creator for Blind Travels, a website dedicated to providing tips, tricks and reviews for blind and low vision travelers. In my journeys, I find myself on most of the major (and minor) airlines, and most of the flight attendants have little, if any experience helping passengers with vision loss. This is especially true when it comes to guide dogs. It is sad to say that most cabin crew members have far more experience with fraudulent service animals than those who are actually trained. Thankfully, the recent changes in the definition of a service animal, and where they can travel by the Department of Transportation has alleviated some of the shenanigans passengers try to get away with in order to not leave their little biting dogs at home.

United Airlines

Recently on a trip from Denver to Las Vegas, I encountered the most understanding and best trained crewmember I have ever had the pleasure to fly with. I boarded early, and for this flight was traveling without my guide dog. As I was getting settled into my seat, one of the crewmembers came to sit next to me. She explained that she was working in the rear of the plane but noticed me come onboard and wanted to have a quick chat. She asked if Las Vegas was my destination, and if I had any special plans while I was there. She then used this short conversation to ask if I understood the amenities of the aircraft and told me where the restrooms were located in the cabin, and how to get to each of the emergency exits. She told me that while we were waiting for the other passengers to board, she was happy to go over all the safety features and explain the seatbelt if I wanted her to.

This crewmember used conversation to ease into asking if the passenger needs assistance and took the time to offer important information about the emergency exits and the restrooms. She took the time to inform me about the plan for the flight and let the crew that would be helping me know that I was vision impaired. This was all done without prompting and given the fact that this crewmember was scheduled to work in the back of the plane and took the time to come to the front of the plane to talk with me was pretty amazing. It sort of feels like United should have this person running the training for interfacing with disabled passengers.


It is so nice to be able to call out an airline for great training instead of always having to complain about something bad that happened on a flight. I love that organizations like Virgin Atlantic are taking the steps to better train their staff to help blind and low vision passengers. Let’s hope that the other airlines take a tip from United and Virgin Atlantic and add more training for their staff as well.   

Have you had a particularly good or bad flight experience? Tell me about it, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a message here or on any of my social media links below. If you would like to read the original article from Travel + Leisure, find the link below.



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About the author

Ted Tahquechi is a blind photographer, travel influencer, disability advocate and photo educator based in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of Ted’s work at

Ted operates Blind Travels, a travel blog designed specifically to empower blind and visually impaired travelers.

Ted’s body-positive Landscapes of the Body project has been shown all over the world, learn more about this intriguing collection of photographic work at:

 Questions or comments? Feel free to email Ted at: 

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