I flew for the first time last year, and while it was not the worst experience, it did have its ups and downs [“Taming Our Fear of Flying,” April 2014]. I do think there needs to be further training with TSA, the crew that helps with transferring people into and out of their wheelchairs, and the ground crew that handles storing the wheelchairs. I do like all the tips in the story, some of which I used when I flew and some I did not know about. I do hope to travel again.
Tips From Frequent Flyer
Good article [“Taming Our Fear of Flying”], but as a C6 quad who takes about 30 flights a year for my work, the information provided is incomplete in terms of helping those who do not fly or are afraid to fly. Here are some tips I have found to be helpful:
Your airline choice matters, but often you will not have a choice of carriers unless you are going from one major airport to another. Your wheelchair will not fit on 95 percent of planes. Even if it fits, it will only get to a few seats that are emergency row seats by the cabin door. You may not be allowed to sit there. Bathrooms are not accessible on planes. I’ve never seen one in over 200 flights. Bring two empty Tropicana orange juice jars in a plastic shopping bag on your carry-on. Empty your leg bag into it. No one will notice or care. Tie it up in the plastic bag and have your friend throw it out or just leave it on the floor tied up.
Always check in at curbside. Remove everything from your wheelchair (pouches, bags) and body (jackets). Every U.S. airport has a line for wheelchairs to make your wait shorter at security. It varies by airport how much time you’ll save, but find that line.
Once you clear security, head to your gate to arrive about one hour before boarding time. If you have more than one hour, buy bottled water and food. The plane may serve beverages, but not enough to keep you hydrated. Also, if your flight lands at night, your destination airport may not have food stores open.
Wait in front of the gate agent counter. You want to be first in line to talk to the gate agent, especially if you were not given the bulkhead aisle seat and your helper/friend/spouse was not given the bulkhead middle seat when you booked your flight. Check SeatGuru.com to find out details on any seat on any flight.
Viva Pazzo Pazzo!
Wild! I recognized the name Pazzo Pazzo, but when I read further [“Ashley Lauren Fisher: Full Force, Non-Stop,” April 2014], I realized that I frequented it when I used to live there [Morristown, N.J.] years ago and wasn’t in the mood for fish and chips at the Dublin Pub. There are many good places to eat in MO Town, and Pazzo Pazzo was always at the top of the list. It’s been many years since I moved to Georgia, but I always recommended ya’ll to others as a great place to dine. I’m glad to see that a disabled person is behind much of the operation and inspiration. I was not disabled back in 2005 when I moved. I admire your conviction, Ashley, and those who support(ed) you!
Kudos for Tackling This
I’m a para with 40 years experience. Your article on having a colostomy was very good [“Colostomy Pros and Cons,” April 2014]. A friend injured in the same auto accident that paralyzed me had a colostomy for 15 to 20 years before I got mine. There are advantages and disadvantages. The odor and mess of a failed colostomy appliance is less than the social stigma that accompanies the same problem without the procedure. Kudos for tackling this important issue.
As far as I can tell I am accepted at work [“At Work, Are You Just One of the Workers — or Special?” April 22 blog by Sue LoTempio]. I try to keep an iron skin, project confidence and competence. I am an attorney working as an administrative law judge for a state agency. I manage three other attorneys and five paralegals. My interactions with co-workers, staff and parties appearing in front of the agency are all very professional. The couple of site visits to not terribly accessible construction sites and power generation plants have been very matter-of-fact in how they are handled (as far as what is reachable by wheelchair and what isn’t). Travel has been very professionally handled as well. All in all, work has been about being able to do the job and not about being “special.”