An airport can be a busy and stressful place, especially if you are unsure what to expect on the day.  It is even more stressful when you or your travel companion have a disability that is not immediately obvious to airport staff – a hidden disability. Hidden Disabilities can include autism, anxiety, dementia, mental health conditions, chronic illness, visual impairments, deaf or hard of hearing.

We want to ensure that everyone’s journey through Gold Coast Airport is as smooth as possible, so we have a comprehensive program to assist you on your journey. First launched in 2019, our Hidden Disabilities program caters for adults, children and their families and friends, providing a way for you to pre-plan your journey or let our staff know you may need support.

We recognise that people living with these disabilities and conditions and their families are the ones who best understand what they need most. That’s why we’re proud to work in partnership with organisations like Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) to design and constantly improve our Hidden Disabilities program. ASPECT employs people of all ages with both hidden and physical disabilities and works with their families to deliver evidence-informed solutions that are person-centred, family-focused and customer driven. We are also proud to work with Bayley House, an organisation that supports people living with disabilities, as well as the Australia and New Zealand stockist for Sunflower products. By displaying the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower symbol, you’re discreetly telling people around you that you have a disability or condition that may mean that you need a little extra help or support.

This program is in proud partnership with:


Airports are often crowded and noisy places. We have developed a terminal sensory map that identifies low, medium and high sensory areas. This can help you navigate your way through the terminal and can prepare you for crowded areas, additional noise, smells and lights. It identifies areas where you can stop and be in a quieter area if required. Gold Coast Airport offers a Low Sensory Entry, Low Sensory Amenity Block and Sensory Friendly Room. Please refer to the terminal sensory map for their locations or look for the sunflower symbol.


Communication Boards use pictures/icons and text to identify key information, locations and questions. They can help people who communicate differently to understand each other and get their needs met. This includes:

People who cannot talk out loud, or become non-verbal when overwhelmed.
People who have speech that is difficult for others to understand.
People who use languages other than English.

Communication Boards utilise pictures/icons and text to identify key information, locations, and questions. We offer the following Communication Boards for you to download:

1. How to use a Communication Boards
2. Before Security Screening
3. Screening Sequence
4. After Security Screening
5. International Departures Screening Sequence, Powders, Liquids, Aerosols and Gels (PLAGS)
6. International Departures, Passport Process
7. International Arrivals, Passport Process


Written social story journeys are designed to assist people in understanding how an airport works and what to expect.  The story can help you prepare for your journey.  There is a journey story for our domestic and international processes.


We want all our guests at Gold Coast Airport to be as comfortable as possible, so we have created the below videos to help you prepare for your time at Gold Coast Airport.  It can help to navigate your journey through the terminal.


Some travellers may find a visit to Gold Coast Airport ahead of their travel date useful in order to familiarise themselves with processes, sights, sounds, and smells of the airport environment. Travellers who would like to take a terminal practice run are encouraged to visit Gold Coast Airport at a time most convenient to them, noting that the airport is open from 4am to 11pm every day.

You don’t need a boarding pass to experience most of the passenger journey through Gold Coast Airport – you can trial all areas from check-in, security screening, and the domestic departure lounge without being a travelling passenger.

Terminal practice runs are unaccompanied by Gold Coast Airport team members. Gold Coast Airport Ambassadors are located at the Information Desk and can provide a sunflower lanyard upon request. Self-guided practice runs can be taken at your own pace at any time during opening hours (4am – 11pm).

Gold Coast Airport is predominately a single level facility and is easy to navigate, here are some point-to-point transfer distances. You can view these distances on a terminal map here



Walking distance (m)

Arrivals Entrance

Domestic Baggage reclaim

50 to 125

Domestic Baggage reclaim

Taxi rank

150 to 200

Passenger drop off

Check in counters

50 to 225

Check in counters

Main screening point

100 to 175

Check in counters

Domestic departures lounge

150 to 250

Check in counters

International security screening point

350 to 450

Complimentary parking will be provided for up to one hour. This applies to non-travellers and proof of future travel may be required. Registration form:

Would you like one of our Hidden Disabilities Sunflower lanyards?*

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An activity book has been created for children traveling through Gold Coast Airport. This activity book has activities that can be completed along each step of the terminal journey. There is a I-spy for children to find different things, colouring and a find a word. Checklists are also included of some of the important things we all have to do.  Children can tick off when they have completed such as check-in, security checks and boarding the plane.

Download the Activity Book:


Gold Coast Airport’s AmbassaPAW Programme engages volunteer therapy dogs to help alleviate the stress often associated with travelling. We currently have therapy dogs available throughout the week as follows:

Tuesday: Bonnie
Wednesday: Alice
Thursday: Chappie
Friday: Lucy


If you or someone you are travelling with has a hidden disability, you can request a hidden disability lanyard. Wearing a sunflower lanyard when you are at Gold Coast Airport is a discreet way for you to indicate to our team that you may need a little extra help, guidance or time with the airport processes.  Our team have been trained to recognise the lanyard and provide the assistance and support you may need.

Tips for using the hidden disabilities lanyard:

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed or have specific requirements, please don’t hesitate to approach a Gold Coast Airport team member for help or to make a request.
  • Please use the priority lane at security screening.  Security team members are aware of varying disabilities and will conduct searches as efficiently and sensitively as possible.
  • If travelling on an international service, please use the assistance lane at Powders, Liquids, Aerosols and Gel.
International Regulations
  • If travelling on an international service, you can proceed directly to the counter where Australian Border Force officers will check your passport.
International Regulations

This program does not exempt passengers from normal airport procedures.

  • If you are travelling in a group, we typically only facilitate the passenger requiring assistance and the immediate carers (maximum two adults).
  • The lanyard does not provide a personal escort through the airport process.  If you require this level of assistance or wheelchair assistance your airline is best placed to help you.
  • Hidden disability lanyards are free of charge.

Hidden Disability Form

Please fill in the form to request a hidden disabilities lanyard and information pack no later than 14 days before your date of travel.



Please provide your contact details. If you prefer us to contact your carer, please provide your carer's details here.


The Hidden Disabilities Program is currently only available for Australian travelers. Please supply an Australian postal address.

Thank you!

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Should you have any general queries, you may email us at hiddendisabilities@gcal.com.au.


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