Friday, October 07 2005 @ 03:26 AM EDT Contributed by: Salimacatwoman Views: 1038
I have never had a big trouble when traveling but I have seen that many other disable passengers have had troubles with their wheelchairs, especially when the wheelchairs are motorized.
My biggest problem in one of my trips when I traveled to Ottawa on 2001, was that the people at the San Diego Airport lost my luggage, I arrived to Ottawa and when I tried finding my luggage and seen that it hadn't arrived "in my same flight", it was not such a nice surprise because in that suitcase I had all my personal stuff that I use as a disabled every day and well I had to buy a few of the things again while my suitcase was delivered to my hotel room,as I was very upset because my luggage hadn't appeared the next day I called the airline and told them I was going calling my lawyer because their lack of care was causing me troubles and I was urgently needing my pills and other personal stuff that was inside the suitcase,well the mild threatening had a good result and my suitcase was delivered to my hotel room the next morning.
I don't have a motorized wheelchair, so when I travel I can stay sitting on my own wheelchair until the airplane crew helps me to move to my seat inside the plane, though I have seen many times that disabled passengers who need motorized wheelchairs are asked to move to a standard wheelchair and their wheelchairs are taken to the surveillance area/office in order to see if the batteries are real batteries and not explosives or a bomb, this is done for "security issues", which is ok if the person weren't a real disabled but when the person is really disabled and barely can move or feel comfortable out of the motorized wheelchair that is a real disappointment and a big trouble for the disabled person, unfortunately while the wheelchairs are being checked "the airplane might be leaving", if the disabled person asks to any of the airline employees they just say "we'll take care of your wheelchair,luggage,etc"
It would be great if there were a register when disabled people travel more comfortable, something that would allow the airline crew and the guards to see and verify when a person really needs to be on that specific motorized wheelchair until the last minute before enter the airplane, that would allow less problems for disabled passengers, making their trip safer and more comfortable.
Traveling is a wonderful experience but it can be very difficult, frustrating, stressful and very risky for disabled people,because most of the hotels or houses arenīt really nor completely adapted for a wheelchair,a walker or even for people using crutches and canes,or with any other kind of disability,we find into those places many narrow rooms,too many stairs,thick carpets, bathrooms with bathtubes and with a great lack of protections around the toilet seats, etc... that is why many times the person with special needs prefers to stay at home where the environment for disabled people is adapted for having a comfortable and safer lifestlye.
I myself have tried to avoid going on vacations for visiting my relatives in my hometown (Mexico city),or traveling too often,but staying at home isnīt the answer because we need to go out,move around and live a life full of experiences,we need the wonderful experience to show ourselves that YES WE CAN.
We can travel by ourselves,enjoy the trip and come back home safe and healthy,despite the barriers and difficulties we may find around.
Thursday, June 30 2005 @ 07:52 AM EDT Contributed by: Salimacatwoman Views: 1695
I have traveled many times since 1999, I went to Seattle,Wa, Phoenix,Az, Ottawa,Canada, Las Vegas,Nv, Los Angeles,California and a few cities inside my Country: Mexico and I must say that whenever I have traveled it has been a great experience for me (especially about airports).
I have never had a trouble while boarding the plane,true the aisle is too narrow in most airplanes,but it's when the airline's staff have helped me to move from my wheelchair to a "smaller-narrower chair" that fits inside the aisles of the aircrafts,once inside the airplane,I have been helped to move to my seat,actually the airline staff have carried me (2 people:1 grabbing my feet around my knees and the other grabbing me behind/below the arms),as I said in a previous article,the Stewardesses have even benefited me by changing my coach seat for a 1st class one,it is because the 1st class seats are closer to the door and the room there is wider,so the "work" for the staff who helped me is less difficult.
I feel lucky because although I have traveled in a not so safe time,I have never had troubles beyond of losing my luggage for a few days,for example,when I traveled to Ottawa,Canada was a month after September 11th and the security at the airports (in Canada and in San Diego,almost didn't check me,nor my wheelchair),but I witnessed how another disabled passenger in another flight was removed from an electric wheelchair and it was taken away from him for a few hours until the battery and all about the wheelchair was well checked of not being explosive,nor dangerous.
Last year,on June 2004 I went to Las Vegas and when security checked me,they were very polite and I was lucky that the girl performing the searching was a disabled!,she was a mild mental retarded young girl,she removed my boots,checked them and put them back,I must say I am accustomed to always listening the alarm sound when I go through the metal detector,it's because of my 2 platinum bars along my spine,so whenever traveling,I first go through metal detector and I explain why I "sounded"
I think that making the research before traveling and also selecting a "recognized" or prestigious airline really helps,I have been tempted many times for the prices small airlines offer,but the fact is that prestigious airlines like Delta,American Airlines,United,Air Canada and a few more,have (maybe) more experienced personnel hired for handling all kind of stuff and all kind of passengers,besides,in case of having any trouble as a passenger maybe there would be a better way to find a solution because they don't want to have lawsuits due to lack of attention,or safety.
I have sadly seen that many disabled people have faced troubles at the airports and also for traveling in a general sense,I think the only option we have is keep talking and showing non disabled people that we exist and we travel as much as they do,so if we have a problem we always must complain in the proper way and never give up,as far as I have seen and read,no disabled can be left down because he/she travels alone,on the contrary,there are laws supporting disabled travelers,it's time to use them properly and the only thing we must do is always been polite and request the attention /help with a smile.
A Spanish disabled student has begun legal proceedings against an airline because staff would not allow her on a flight at Coventry Airport last December.
Wheelchair user Raquel Talens was told she could not fly to Valencia without a personal assistant.
The student, from Leicester University, who had flown unaccompanied on three previous occasions with Thomsonfly, told DN: "At the time of the booking in June 2004, I advised the Thomsonfly representative of my disability and he assured me that there would be no problem.
"I realise that this is one of the conditions of booking, but as I am independent and do not need a carer to help me move around. I did not think that there would be a problem."
After turning down a request from Miss Talens to have another passenger accompany her, a staff member took Miss Talen's baggage outside the airport and ordered a taxi to take her back to Leicester.
Miss Talens said: "The incident was distressing and inconvenient. I missed a hospital appointment in Spain. Service providers must know that they cannot treat disabled people with disrespect and get away with it."
Despite receiving a letter of apology and compensation covering the cost of the ticket and the cab fare, Miss Talens said: "I feel they have not apologised for the disrespectful behaviour of their staff."
A spokeswoman for Thomsonfly told DN: "As Miss Talens has started legal proceedings against Thomsonfly.com, we cannot comment".
Traveling for Disabled people can be both things: a marvelous,great and exciting experience or a very disappointing one!
I have traveled many times and I must say whenever I have traveled I try to make a research about the place I will arrive,book airplane tickets on time and also transportation and I must say I have been lucky about not being hurt nor having any serious problem,the most serious problem I had was when traveled to Ottawa,Canada and Air Canada lost my luggagge,it was very bad because most of my very important and personal stuff was there and as a disabled I can't do many things without my personal stuff and medicine.
Most of the Airport and Airline's staff has been polite with me and they have helped me whenever I have needed them,they have even benefited me by changing my seat,upgrading it from coach to first class because it is wider and has more room for them to carry me to my seat,but unfortunately many disabled people have been mistreated and had problems that have damaged them,maybe it's the airline brand what is causing this bad attitud,I mean in the sense that bigger names (more famous or classical) hire more expert employees trained for helping better to all kind of passengers,among them: disabled and senior citizens.