Visually impaired passengers to start using new MSN airport service

Published: May. 23, 2019 at 5:50 PM CDT
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About ten percent of residents in the Dane County area have low vision or are visually impaired.

“One of the biggest fears I know I had when I started traveling is the fear of the unknown,” said Greg Stilson, a Madison resident and frequent flier through the MSN Airport. “There’s always that tiny bit of fear factor and it creates a little bit of anxiety.”

Stilson is a director of product Management for Aira, an app which enhances efficiency for travelers who are blind or low vision.

“Basically Aira turns the visual world into an audio description, so it’s able to describe to me my surroundings,” Stilson added.

Like the apps Uber or Lyft would, Aira connects a user to an agent on the other end who uses a phone camera and GPS technology to guide someone through the airport.

“They will actually see the map of the airport immediately pop up on their dashboard and be able to give me directions based on my location in that airport,” said Stilson.

While the app is available for users at many businesses, it’s quickly working its way into airports across the country and launching access to new airports nearly once a week.

The Dane County Regional Airport is the most recent airport to start providing this service via the Aira Airport Network.

Stilson says the app can also tell users what restaurants are in the terminal, where the restrooms are, or how to find a gate or security.

“It’s one of those things where I can go wherever and whenever I need to,” said Stilson. “Now I have this incredible freedom where I can just get off the plane and I’m not stuck waiting at a gate.”

To learn more about the Aira Airport Network and how it works, call 800-835-1934.

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