Over the past 7 or so years, due to that stinkin diabetes,
I have become legally blind and mostly
I try very hard to stay the person I have always been:
positive, a joker, kind, and happy.
Besides God, family, and the garden, my grand passion
in life has been Mexico and travel. When I was 15 I
began traveling alone to Mexico.
Now it is so difficult to accomplish much, including traveling.
My burning question is about flying.
When you are wheelchair bound, how do you board the
How are you situated while ON the plane ?v
Most times in the USA, there are no stairs involved. But many
times on smaller jets one must go up and down quite a number
of stairs . How does it work for someone in a wheelchair ?
Any advise and insights are appreciated !
fllying on wheels
Over the past 7 or so years, due to that stinkin diabetes,
BEcky, right? I'm trying to remember the one time I needed this. I know they had me use one of those strange skinny chairs on wheels that fit down the airplane aisles, and then I think my (airline) attendant and I got to go up on the meals truck to the regular door(?), all before anybody else boarded.
I don't use wheels all the time, so I was able to get into my seat.
I hear you about that stinking d.m. 48 yrs, I think, type 1. I was just thinking yesterday that I have all the complications, but not to the worst extent. I'm sorry yours has gone so far. But sure glad you have the garden! And I would join you in Mexico any day :~)
Oh, I LOVE going to Mexico! And I really don't care for flying much at all. I can't even use the restroom on commercial flights, because we fly free stand-by, so it would count as "causing trouble" by my husband.
Now Becky, I will tell you how WE do it (DH and I) and then I will tell you how you can do it alone and what the airline is required to do.
US: We make ourselves known to the gate agent that we would like pre-boarding. (It makes the bathroom-free portion a little longer, but it is much easier.) We take OUR WC up to the door of the plane, make sure there's a "gate-tag" or "gate-check" attached to the WC. Make sure your seats are near the front of the plane. DH checks with the flight attendant that it's OK to come on board. He scoops me up and strides on to the plane, often smashing my feet into the corner, carrying me with my head on one side and my feet on the other. Undoubtedly somebody says "now that's true love" or "you got yourself a keeper there" or something equally trite. ^_^ He finds our seats and puts me on the aisle side.
ALONE: (I have flown alone a few times, mostly when he was here and I was back East, and it can be done.) Call the airline ahead of time and tell them you will be traveling with a wheelchair. Make sure they mark it on your travel information. There is a whole cadre of folks whose job it is to push people in wheelchairs around. They will usually accost you at check-in or even as you get out of your car, especially if you get dropped off. The thing is, they get paid like $2 an hour, so you really MUST tip them. They will push you through TSA and everything. If you can stagger through the metal detector, I recommend it. The TSA wheelchair screening is time-consuming and borders on invasive. Of course, pack your meds in carry-on luggage but try to avoid having lots of luggage. When you get to the gate, introduce yourself or at least make yourself known to the gate agent. Ask if you can pre-board and discuss what assistance you will need. (When we say pre-board, we mean before anyone else. Before the people with kids and definitely before the gold, diamond and silver customers.) (These days, space for "carry-on" and "personal items" is getting smaller and smaller. You will be urged to relinquish your carry-on items several times. If you don't check them out where you left your checked baggage, you will probably get another chance. Explain that your IRREPLACEABLE MEDICATION is in there and you can't be separated from it. If you need an aisle chair, (that's the skinny chair that fits on the plane) it's really easier than it looks. They should line the two chairs up parallel, have TWO people helping, one lift under your arms and one your feet or hips, one..two..three....whee, they lift you and you're teetering on the other chair. Then they have to buckle you in. I hate this part because it makes me feel claustrophobic, but without the buckles I couldn't stay on the aisle chair. You could mention that you heard a story about a lady with a baby who got left in the aisle chair for 45 min. and you're terrified of that happening to you (I can tell you the story but that's all there is to it, that it happened) but you are really only supposed to be in the aisle chair for a moment or two. Usually two people push it, one fore and one aft. You might be in a semi-horizontal position.
I can tell you all kinds of horror stories, but the few times that I've done it, it was all very smooth and professional. The first row of seats have a fixed armrest (bulkhead row). They have more leg room and you may be offered them. If you don't mind climbing over them and relinquishing your purse for take-off and landing, say yes. If you're like me and you need to be transferred into the seat, say no; I need the arm to go up. I let them lift me into the chair on the outside (on the aisle instead of in the aisle). Then I don't drink (although flights are dehydrating) and I don't pee. In a real emergency I think DH could get me into the restroom.
JetBlue (the airline my husband works for) is starting a First Class from JFK to LA this summer, and they asked me to fly round trip to test it. (Sure, I'll fly lying down in a seat for 12 hours considering you will pay for my hotel meals trip and I'll get to pee. And my husband/best friend gets to come too!
DH says "where there aren't jetbridges, they have either really long ramps with switchbacks or a truck that goes up and down. They always have an aisle chair on the plane (folded up somewhere--I've never seen it). The Air Carriers Access Act has very specific rules about accessibility. Every US carrier has a Complaint Resolution Officer who is trained on the ACAA. They should be able to help you."