Travelers in London Heathrow Airport.
Accessibility & Technology

Aira At The Airport

Jan 17, 2019

Aira At The Airport

There are challenges involved in traveling through airports always, for everyone. Add a visual impairment to the mix and you’ve got an excellent excuse to just stay at home. A travel companion could solve a lot of the problem, but there isn’t always one available. You can request assistance at the airport, but it may arrive holding a sign you cannot read and pushing a wheelchair you do not need.

For a while now we’ve been thinking the best solution, to navigating the inside of an airport, would come in the form of an interior mapping system and a really, really smart digital assistant.

As much as we love the incredible strides technology is helping us take, navigation systems and digital assistants have not yet proven to be precise enough for this task. While we were waiting patiently for that, we started hearing about this thing call Aira (pronounced I-ra), a technology that depends on humans for accuracy.

How Aira Works

Turns out, even in this intensely technological time, people still provide the most dependable source of assistance. Imagine that. Aira is a service that connects you with an agent via smartphone. This service could possibly take the pain out of asking for help, you’re not disturbing anyone, it is what they are there to do.

The Agents are trained to guide you.  They can see a 120 degree view through the camera of your phone, much more than you’re seeing. Aira customers are called “Explorers,” and that makes it sound a little like we’re playing a game, but why not, perhaps it will make airport travel fun again.

How Much Aira Costs

Aira is a subscription service, now starting at $29 a month for 30 minutes of service, $99 for 120 minutes, and up from there. The service is accessed by mobile app, or alternatively, by smart glasses, an option offered only to monthly subscribers. Subscribers can call an agent for assistance, when and where they want, for any number of tasks.

On January 22 Aira announced a free trial offer, for a limited time. If you’ve already signed into Aira as a Guest, the offer appears when you open the app, it says, “Aira is offering you 30 free minutes for 7 days.” 

If you don’t have the app yet, here’s the offer.

Get Aira Access Free At Participating Airports

One very appealing aspect of the service is Aira’s free access locations, which include over 30 airports.  Guest access only requires that you download the Aira app and sign in, with an email and phone number. Free Guest access if also currently available at all AT&T stores, Walgreens, Wegmans and more. 

The complete list of Aira free access airports is somewhat elusive. We reached out to Aira and were told the best way to find a particular airport offering Guest access, is by searching in the app itself. 

On the home screen, select “Call using a Free Offer,” then select Locations and all free access locations in your local area will be listed. Using the search term “Airport” showed several airports within a 200 mile radius, and in our case that included Boston International Airport, Wooster Regional Airport, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport.

However, search results overall were hit or miss. For example, entering Boston Airport, Boston Logan Airport, Logan International Airport, and Syracuse Airport, yielded no results. In some, but not all cases, a single name or city will bring up the participating airport: Syracuse and Seattle did, but Boston did not. Heathrow did, but London did not.

The good news is, searches can be fixed.  Let’s encourage Aira to get this one working better real soon. Meanwhile, if you’re having trouble getting airport info, you can always revert to the old fashioned method, call Aira and speak to a live agent. 

Try A Free Access Location Or The Free Trial Offer And Tell Us About Your Experience

Have you tried Aira? Did it exceed or fall short of your expectations? Let us know, we would love to hear about your experience.

Getting Started with Aira

Phone: 800-835-1934.

Travelers rushing through airport terminal.
Travelers rushing through airport terminal.

Please note that this article was not paid for, affiliated with, or endorsed by any third-party companies. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s.

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.



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