If you have never flown in your wheelchair before thanksgiving is not the time to learn, because if you are a rookie it can be a cluster fuck.
Booking- it’s better to book through an agent , or on the phone with a live human because you can get names ,staff id numbers office they are in , where in the country they are and print all this in triplicate as every employee will want a copy to show his supervisor.
CHECKING IN- get there two hours early, and have everything on paper
NEVER ASSUME ANYONE HAS HEARD OF THE ADA,
they have seperate check in lines for wheelchairs, ignore loud assholes yelling for you wait your turn, it’s your right!
Depending on if you’re travelling domestic or international every airline has an office of disabled travel. Do not confuse this with the people who push you they are paid by the airport and should be avoided they treat you like you’re demented.
By law if you’re travelling in a wheelchair you’re allowed to bring a spare and or extra wheels free of charge.
Print out the relevant pages from the ADA regarding travel in case you get the village idiot.
Don’t be afraid to demand a supervisor
POWER CHAIRS- if you use a power chair bring the manual depending on the type of battery it will have to be tested as if it is the same kind of battery as a cell phone it will not be allowed.
If there are wires on your chair or plugs that cannot be unplugged make sure you inform the person who takes it from you and make them attach a note in front of you while you watch, there is nothing worse than arriving across the world to a chair not working because some fool pulled every plug he saw.
Also with power chairs arrive three hours early.
BRING YOUR PATIENCE
Every single person you will encounter will act like they own the airline, and they will all demand nonexistent paper work or proof you’re disabled.
TAKE PHOTOS OF THE CONDITION OF YOUR CHAIR WITH TIME AND DATE STAMP- I have never flown anywhere that my chair was not dropped thrown or damaged in some way.
FLIGHT CONNECTIONS- do not book flights with quick connections , because no matter how well you got on the first plane the people at the next connection must be made to feel like demigods,
They will demand to redo every test,
Redo every call to check every fact
And of course they will want their very own copy of every piece of information you have given the previous people because they are after all god!
TSA- They are ignorant
They are uninformed
They are not police
They have basic, very basic training
ASSUME THEY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THE ADA – I was once told to stand up out of my chair walk over and wait in the corner, when I told them it was impossible I was reported as combatant and a body search was ordered)
They will push you to the back of the line and make you wait,
If you get a smart compassionate one slip them a ruffy and bring them with you they are very, very, very rare
SERVICE DOGS- I WILL PRINT THIS IN CAPITALS BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF TRAVEL INFO WHEN IT COMES TO TRAVELLING WITH A SERVICE DOG-
THEY CANNOT DEMAND PAPER WORK
THEY ARE ALLOWED TO ASK ONLY TWO QUESTIONS LEGALLY
1/ IS IT A SERVICE DOG
2/ WHAT SERVICE DOES IT PROVIDE
SERVICE DOGS ON PLANES- they must by law provide space for your dog in the same row at your feet as you are seated,
They cannot crate restrain or muzzle your dog.
The ADA states clearly- NEITHER ALLERGY NOR FEAR OF DOGS IS LEGAL REASON TO REMOVE RESTRAIN OR REFUSE A SERVICE ANIMAL ENTRANCE ACCESS OR ABILITY TO PERFORM IT’S DUTIES UNFETTERRED
ALLOW TOILET BREAK TIME BETWEEN FLIGHTS FOR YOUR SERVICE ANIMAL- most airports have special areas for this.
THE ADA IS A FEDERAL LAW do not allow hicks in certain states to rant “WELL YOU’RE IN OUR STATE AND WE HAVE OUR OWN RULES”
The smartest way to travel when you’re disabled is always with someone else for support but remember
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN UNACCOMPANIED WITH ALL THE DIGNITY, COMFORT AND CARE THAT IS PROVIDED TO EVERY OTHER PAYING PASSENGER IF IT ISN’T OFFERRED DAMN WELL DEMAND IT!
MOST OF ALL HAVE FUN.