Holiday travel during the months of November and December can prove stressful to anyone, including those with disabilities. However, holiday travel with limited mobility is possible if you plan ahead and follow smart tips during your journey.
The following looks at some of the major issues to keep in mind if you plan on limited mobility holiday travel, especially air travel. As with those with specific issues, including everything from traumatic brain injury to a spinal cord injury, flying with medical assistance and medical flight services can make the trip go much easier.
Planning Holiday Travel If You Have Limited Mobility
Keep these issues in mind before you leave the house and during your flight.
Know Your Rights
Make sure to know the rights you have under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In the broadest terms, you cannot be discriminated against because you experience mobility issues. There are rules in place that make bathrooms accessible, allow service animals if required, and provide assistance going through security.
Book in Advance
Even under normal circumstances, you want to book your trip early. For holiday travel, it’s even more important. Flights fill up quickly in November and December. Book as far in advance as possible and stick with non-stop flights, if possible. If you must take two flights, make sure there is plenty of time to change planes at the airport. Arrange transportation to and from the airport.
Contact both the airline and the airport to find out all the services available to limited mobility travelers. They include shorter security lines, the chance to board early and get assistance (such as a wheelchair) while moving through the airport. Be specific about your injury and write down the details of what they offer to help you.
Packing Equipment, Medication
If you take medication, bring enough to last the entire trip and place it in your carryon bag. When you speak with people at the airport and airlines, find out rules around using equipment – crutches or your own wheelchair, for example – during your trip. For example, airplanes have special wheelchairs meant to fit the narrow aisle, so your wheelchair will be stored during the flight. Make sure you ask to have your own chair brought to you at the gate of your destination airport.
Going Through Security
The Transportation and Safety Administration advises those with limited mobility to speak with a TSA agent about any concerns before going through security. You can contact the TSA about this issue through the TSA Cares toll free helpline.
If you’re approved ahead of time through TSA Pre✓®, you will not need to remove laptops or 3-1-1- liquids from your bag or take off shoes, belts, or light jackets during the screening process. However, TSA adds that “everyone is required to undergo screening at the checkpoint by technology or a pat-down. Also, TSA officers may swab an individual’s hands, mobility aids, equipment and other external medical devices to test for explosives using explosives trace detection technology.”
Find the Right Seat
Most airlines will allow you to board early, so choose a seat on the aisle so you can more easily get up and go to the bathroom, if necessary. You’ll want a seat as close to the bathroom as well.
Drink Water, Bring Food
Stay hydrated during the flight by drinking water – about eight ounces of water is recommended for every hour you fly. With that in mind, a stop at the bathroom is a smart move, too! Also, if you are on any type of special diet, bring food packed in your carryon bag to make it through the flight.
Fly With a Flight Nurse
For those with limited mobility who plan holiday travel, making the journey with a flight nurse can provide the peace of mind of having a medical professional with you every step of the way. A flight nurse has experience providing emergency medical care and will oversee all your travel arrangements, including working with airport and airline officials on your behalf. They also oversee the handling of medical equipment and medications throughout your journey. They take on a lot of the stressful parts of holiday travel for those with limited mobility.
Everyone should enjoy going to see friends and loved ones during the holiday season. That included those with limited mobility. Flying with medical assistance can help make the journey easier, and give you the comfort of knowing someone is with you who can handle any problems that arises.