Wheelchairs and Planes: My Experiences
My experiences traveling both domestic and international:
Well, I’ve done Alaska Air, Delta and Air France maybe. And actually, they’ve all been pretty good for me. Even if you put that you’re disabled, just as soon as you get to the airport, talk to somebody at the counter. Because there have been a couple times when they’ve been like, “Ooh, we didn’t know you were coming!” But, you know, that’s fine. I just go to the gate right where you’re getting on the airplane, and then, since I can walk, I go down and tell them that you need your wheelchair, they can load my wheelchair early. And then they would just, wheel me down in the wheelchair. I’m fine with that, I transfer fine, so it’s not that big of a deal. But be specific and tell them that you want the wheelchair at the gate when you’re changing planes! Most the time we are! So I just tell them, you know, we need that wheelchair at the gate, and they were fine. And they’ve always had somebody there. A couple of airports actually had people push me different places. You can request help. A lot of times, I don’t because I usually have someone with me. I would say if you have to go through customs, request a helper! Because they know…if you’re in a wheelchair, you can cut the line, and they know exactly where to take you to cut that line. When we were in Atlanta we asked, but if you’re in a foreign country, it’s nice to have somebody that knows it so you don’t have to try to…that language barrier…because usually the guys that help you have a little knowledge of English. So yeah, you just have to be proactive and keep telling them what you need, and what you’re going to do, They’re really very nice and friendly, and really do try to help.
I will add speaking of the bathrooms even with me, my balance is bad, so I do have someone walk behind me on the plane in case there’s turbulence, or if I have an issue trying to get out of the bathroom or in the bathroom, you know, trying to lock things.
Michelle Finnerty, KS