Disabled? You Can Still Take Flight

By: Jody Smith

Disabilities need not keep a senior who has itchy feet from getting on an airplane and soaring into the wild blue yonder. If you are realistic about your limitations and do your homework well in advance, you can prevent snags and problems for yourself.

Research and planning beforehand is key. Make you reservation ahead of time. Ask about what services the airline offers for seniors with disabilities, specifically yours. At this time, discuss your disabilities and what you will need for the flight. This includes asking about things like seat size, and whether or not oxygen is available if you use an oxygen tank. If you use a wheelchair you'll need to know about whether it would be stored in the hold or on board.

Find out about the restroom on the plane, and about handicapped parking. Ask for an aisle seat if getting around is an issue. Reserve whatever transportation you need, such as wheelchair service. Making arrangements ahead of time may also get you discounts and other deals. Try to avoid booking a flight that requires you to change planes. If that isn't possible make sure you arrange your flight times so that you have plenty of time to catch your next flight.

Keep in mind that you will need more time than the average traveler to go through the security gate and on board. If you pick up your airline ticket and boarding pass before your flight date, this will save you from having to spend time in line. While waiting to board the plane, settle yourself near the gate. One thing that will take extra time will be examination of equipment like canes, scooters, walkers and wheelchairs.

Some airlines allow oxygen tanks, but not all of them will. Depending on the airline, you may have to remove your oxygen tank for examination. Some of your medications may be examined but if you make a request, they may do so by hand rather than with an X-ray. It's advisable to get a letter declaring you as fit to travel, this will increase your chances of being allowed to bring medication that are in gel or liquid form over three ounces, or aerosol. This fit to travel letter comes from your doctor, detailing your abilities and issuing permission to use any walking aids you use, wheelchairs and your medications. You may need to show this letter at the security gate.

It's a good idea to label medication and equipment with your name, address and phone number. Don't put these types of necessities in luggage that will be checked in in case they are lost. As much as possible, keep necessities with you. Photocopy important documents like your airline ticket, boarding pass, travelers cheques, credit cards and your passport. Keep your health insurance information with you. Get travel insurance beforehand to increase your peace of mind.

Jody Smith is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.

Sources:

5 Travel Tips for Disabled Seniors

http://www.flyertalk.com/articles/travel-tips/5-travel-tips-for-disabled-seniors.html

Disability Air Travel Information for Seniors and Disabled

http://www.disabled-world.com/travel/airlines

Tips for Disabled Travelers

http://www.todaysseniors.com/pages/Disabled_Travel.html

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