Can you hear it now, “I don’t need a wheelchair at the airport”. No, I’m sure you’d rather be exhausted when you arrive at the gate; worry about find the connecting gate and getting there in time. It’s hard admitting you can’t do what you used to do. Using a wheelchair in an airport can be a challenge, physical and mental. It’s more about giving up control of your time and environment. It’s accepting something that you are fighting to keep. Believe me, I understand. But most airports cover huge distances between terminals and let’s not even talk about TSA lines. As a traveler, you can end up standing in line for undetermined amounts of time and then walking to distant gates. Oh yes and if you are changing flights from domestic to international, who knows the distances and that’s just it – who knows the distances. When I first started traveling after a stroke, I had no choice but to accept the use of a wheelchair but now I am a firm believer in making my life easier so I can continue to travel.
To arrange for a wheelchair to/from a plane and for transfers between flights: simply let the airline know you need a wheelchair when you make the reservation or call the airline after finalizing the reservation. Be prepared to tell the travel agent or airline agent if you can walk onto the airplane. When you check in for the flight, remind the agent you have requested a wheelchair. And yes, tip the wheelchair attendants who love to receive tips for service.
Walking down the ramps to board the plane can be a challenge especially when a thundering hoard of people is rushing behind you to get into the plane. So upon arrival at the gate, I always inform the airline personnel behind the desk that I walk very slowly and need a little extra time to get to the airplane. I’ve been accommodated by every I have asked an airline employee when requesting a little extra time.
It isn’t the same as before but then again, what is?