Columbia Metropolitan Airport, first airport in state to launch Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program

October 18, 2022

The Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) announced that beginning Monday, October 24th the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program will be launching at CAE – a new in-terminal initiative for passengers with hidden disabilities. The program offers a discreet way for those with a hidden disability to self-identify – alerting staff that they, or someone in their party, might need a little more time or extra help.

“Upon learning about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program, we immediately wanted to be involved,” said Mike Gula, Executive Director of CAE. “We do everything we can to ensure our passengers have a good experience while traveling through our airport. By adding this initiative for those who have a hidden disability is just another way we’re putting our passengers’ needs first.”

Individuals who would like to utilize the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program at CAE (for themselves or someone in their traveling party) would simply go to the information desk in the main lobby and ask one of the volunteers for a lanyard or bracelet. The items are free and do not need to be returned.

Hidden disabilities could be physical, mental, or neurological conditions that could include, but are not limited to, cognitive dysfunction, mental disorders, speech/visual/hearing impairments, anxiety, PTSD or chronic conditions.

“Columbia Metropolitan Airport has joined the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program to enhance the customer experience for their passengers.” said Paul White, CEO of Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. “I am delighted that being part of the global Sunflower network means their passengers can be confident that they will receive the support they need as they travel through the airport.”

Over the last few months, the CAE staff, public safety and security, concessionaires, tenants, and airline partners have all participated in the necessary training that accompanies the Hidden Disability Sunflower Program. The training videos, provided by the company, include best practices for those who engage with a person wearing a sunflower lanyard or bracelet and how to assist them.

“Leading the charge and being the first airport in South Carolina to incorporate this initiative is a point of pride for us,” said Gula. “For us, it’s all about providing an excellent passenger experience every time.”

About the Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Now providing 26+ daily flights with nonstop service to 9 major airports in 8 cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami (seasonal on American Airlines), New York City (LGA), Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. (Dulles and Reagan National), Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), a two-time Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited facility, that continues to be a major economic driver for the Midlands region. Welcoming over 1.3 million passengers in 2019, CAE is served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. CAE is a regional cargo hub for UPS and is served by FedEx. For more information, please visit