Disability Travel - A wheelchair user's experience with American Airlines
Anne Spiselman has a thorough article printed about her experiences flying with her wheelchair ORD (Chicago O'Hare) - DCA (Washington DC Reagan) and return with American Airlines in coach. The article was published in Airways Magazine. This link (http://www.airwaysmag.com/channels.html?article_id=135&channel_id=3)will take you to the article as reprinted on Airways Magazine's website.
She posts about the general flying experience, and about the ground experience - where ground personnel seem to often avoid accepting any responsibility for passengers with special needs. The article seems thorough, well written and instructive to me; it reflects how poorly we still do in an industry that transports millions of more able-bodied people - not to mention an undoubted tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of passengers with special needs - annually. Kudos to Airways Magazine, IMO.
Anne Spiselman has added a new article (http://www.airwaysmag.com/channels.html?article_id=185&channel_id=2) to Airways Magazine's website (April 2009 issue) her experience flying American Airlines with her wheelchair between New York JFK and Milan Malpensa MXP in American Airlines Business Class. The article covers both outbound and return, and includes many photos of the aircraft interior and even the meals. (She does't seem to care much for the "Next Generation Business Class" for sleeping - but at 6'4" / 192 m I can sleep quite nicely in it. I also recommend people try the pre-programmed "Z" position as well.)
Jan 8, 09, 6:08 am
Thanks for posting that here. The only disappoinment with the article was that it didn't talk about aisle chairs and being assisted in transferring.
Jan 18, 09, 1:20 pm
Thanks for the article as well. I'm in a heavy power wheelchair and I travel almost exclusively on American and have yet to have a truly 'bad' experience with their disability assistance. Although I have never traveled alone, AA has really provided everything I've requested--the key is contacting special services in advance with any requests no matter how detailed (or insignificant) they may seem, you're the one traveling in the chair, not them.
Sure, finding out that Buenos Aires (EZE) airport does NOT have aisle chairs finally made me realize just how valuable the onboard aisle chair is. Or the little (seriously under 5') guys they sent on the plane at HNL to transfer me from the seat to aisle chair--that was a laugh. Watching the baggage handlers hop in my chair on the ramp in LAS and run a slalom course and do donuts to the terminal. Being left alone in baggage claim in the old JFK terminal by the contract pusher to wait for my power chair because his job was "only to get me to baggage claim."
I've got lots of stories, but fortunately I've been very lucky with AA, and when there's been a problem they've always made it right from a CS perspective. What truly pains me to admit is that out of all of AA's stations, Miami has been the best by far. As miserable as MIA can be, AA really has their disability assistance folks lined up well here. Unfortunately, I think that all airlines/airports could do much better with solo disabled pax and those that don't 'look' disabled.
Now if AA could only school the TSA!
Welcome to the Disability Travel forum, PeoDeMIA!
Unfortunately, I think that all airlines/airports could do much better with solo disabled pax
I fly mostly United and Frontier out of DEN, but my experience as a solo passenger is generally much better than when I have a companion. I've always chalked that up to what I assume is the airline's assumption that if I'm traveling with someone, that person will take care of everything.
Jan 19, 09, 6:03 pm
Well, as you know, there are no two disabilities alike. You're right in that a lot of stuff gets pawned off on my travel companion, but it's quite often the stuff we'd rather do ourselves (adjust my chair when it gets to the door, make sure my cushion is placed properly in the plane seat and in my chair when leaving, etc...). I comment that it's my view that they could do more for solo is because if you a paraplegic for example, you can push your own chair and have got hands that work--so I've seen the airline really leave a lot of those paras to their own devices--getting up the jetway, carrying their bags, and then a looong push out of the terminal. I guess it's all in one's point of view.
Well, as you know, there are no two disabilities alike.
so I've seen the airline really leave a lot of those paras to their own devices--getting up the jetway, carrying their bags, and then a looong push out of the terminal.
That's me - I don't expect (or want) anybody to push me when I'm not in an airport, and I don't want anybody pushing me when I am in an airport. My choice, and sometimes the airline people respect it :-}.
Mar 27, 09, 3:10 pm
Just a quick "Bump" to move this thread up - I have added a link to Anne's newest article, traveling AA Business Class with her 'chair.
Parenthetically, in response to posts in this thread, though I can be a bit dense at times, you don't have to worry about me being "pushy" - I would hope to not be so presumptuous as to intrude on anyone's personal space without a request or without asking. I've been fortunate enough some friends with disabilities have educated me a bit over the years. :)
Mar 28, 09, 1:55 pm
Thanks JDiver for the recent article link. Unfortunately (for me), she's much more focused in the article on which wine she preferred with her beef than on any disability issued faced along the way. Although it's nice to put one's wheelchair out of sight and concentrate on the overall travel experience for 'normal' travelers, it's quite surprising that someone with a disability (and an audience) didn't take the opportunity to at least convey some of the most fundamental accessibility and transportation issues encountered during her trip.
As someone in a wheelchair who is always scheming a trip to a new destination (and MXP) is up there, I'm constantly searching for information regarding airport accessibility and transportation. Maybe Anne decided that Airways Magazine wasn't the appropriate forum for such detail. I'll try to contact her to see what other tidbits she's got, or if she wrote a more detailed trip report in another forum.