In recognition of its commitment to “prioritizing and ensuring an accessible, safe, and inclusive traveling experience for passengers with disabilities,” Miami International Airport has been accredited by the Airports Council International (ACI) Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation (AEA) program.
MIA is the first airport in Florida and the second in the United States to be accredited by the program, which was created by ACI in September 2022 based on existing international best practices and recommendations, including those in the ACI Airport and Persons with Disability Handbook. The AEA program also received input from global airport members, industry partners, and accessibility advocacy groups.
“We strive to make Miami-Dade County services as accessible as possible to all of our residents, which is why I am so proud that MIA’s efforts to serve travelers with disabilities are being recognized internationally,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “As MIA continues to grow and improve at every level, this global accreditation is evidence that the customer experience at the gateway to our community is on the right track.”
“Your airport has successfully proven its ability and commitment to ensure an accessible, safe, and inclusive airport experience for passengers, airport workers, and the visiting public with disabilities, including physical impairments and non-apparent disabilities, as well as the elderly,” wrote Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, ACI World, in his congratulatory letter to MIA Director and CEO Ralph Cutié. “It is crucial that airports ensure they prioritize their national regulations on all matters related to accessibility, safety, and inclusiveness of travelers, airport workers, and the visiting public, when applicable, while continuously enhancing access for all and aiming to remove barriers in the airport experience. We feel confident that your efforts will help us in achieving this common goal.”
Within the last 10 years, MIA’s MyMIAccess program has launched a diverse menu of accessibility services, such as: the MIAair tour program, which allows passengers with disabilities the opportunity to practice the travel experience in a safe and controlled environment; accessibility lanes in its U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) areas; wheelchair charging stations at 10 convenient locations; sunflower lanyards free of charge to travelers with hidden disabilities; multi-sensory rooms in its North and South terminals, where young passengers with cognitive and developmental disabilities can find a calming place to relax during the travel experience; the Aira Airport Network, a free mobile service that allows blind or low-vision travelers to receive navigation assistance at MIA; and seven service animal relief areas with indoor and outdoor locations.
“We have worked tirelessly to meet and exceed the needs of our travelers with disabilities, which makes ACI’s accreditation of our accessibility services extremely gratifying,” said Ralph Cutié, MIA Director and CEO. “We are making additional improvements to our airport terminal, with the goal of providing greater customer satisfaction to all of our visitors.”
The ACI accreditation is the latest in a series of accolades MIA has received for its accessibility services. In July 2022, MIA received the Civil Rights Advocate and Partner Award from the Federal Aviation Administration, which honors ADA coordinators and airport sponsors who have demonstrated excellence in meeting the letter and the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. MIA also won the 2021 Airport Accessibility Award during the 6th Annual Airport Passengers with Reduced Mobility (PRM) Leadership Conference, after earning 50 percent of the votes from the virtual conference’s 159 attendees from 42 countries around the world.
ACI, the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. ACI currently serves 712 members operating 1,925 airports in 171 countries.
Featured image credited to MIA