Travel Made Easy: Be persistent, part 1

Be persistent, be patient and sometimes be a little pushy. Getting what you need when you travel is not just something you do for fun. Getting what you need is necessary for your safety and well-being. So those three “attitudes” become necessary for the mobility challenged.

For now, I am talking about requesting and using a wheelchair at the airport. In Part 2, I will be discussing getting the hotel room you need.

When requesting a wheelchair at an airport, to make sure this is most likely to happen (notice I didn’t say guaranteed to happen), I suggest:

  • Request wheelchair service when making the reservation;
  • Request wheelchair service when checking-in at the airport;
  • When checking in at the departure gate, remind the airline employee at the podium you have requested a wheelchair for the arrival or transfer;
  • Upon boarding, talk to the flight attendant and remind them you have requested wheelchair service.

If this seems a little excessive and pushy, that may be. But if you arrive at a strange airport with no idea of how far you will have to walk to get to the next gate or the baggage claim, you will be glad you were persistent.

Of course, none of this will guarantee wheelchair service in airports. Two years ago, on a trip to Europe, we were scheduled to change planes in Frankfurt. I had ordered a wheelchair for the departure airport, the airport where we changed planes and the arrival airport. This particular airport proved no matter what advanced precautions you take, things can happen. When disembarking the plane, the airline personnel waiting on the gangway announced, “We don’t have any wheelchairs available and the electric carts are busy.” Huh? Frankfurt is a huge airport, but we got lucky because the connecting gate was not too far away and I was able to walk to the connecting gate in time to board the next flight. I don’t know what I would have done if the next gate was in another terminal or a distance away.

Persistence and pushiness have been covered; and now patience. Exercising patience is a must when using wheelchair services in airports. You will be asked to wait for the wheelchair to arrive, to sit in the wheelchair in areas not close to your gate or, basically not move at the pace you would like. This is an enormous change from traveling without mobility challenges. I have to say that 99 percent of the wheelchair attendants’ work very hard to accommodate their passengers. Sometimes it is difficult to give up control of your environment especially when you feel pressed for time or stressed about traveling.

Believe it or not, everyone has the same goal: to get you where you need to be with the assistance to make your travel experience safer. When you are losing your patience, remember this. A lot of travelers get the persistent and pushy part, but it’s the patience that we need the most when the trip starts.

About Kate DeLosso

Kate DeLosso is a travel professional with over 20 years of experience traveling the world on land and by ship, visiting over 30 countries with an emphasis on travel in Asia. Kate DeLosso Travel is a home based travel agency that helps individual travelers and groups explore the US, Europe and Asia. A number of years ago, Kate had stroke and had to re-learn how to walk, type and drive a car. With a mobility handicap, she became aware that travel was “different” for people with physical challenges. One of her missions has become to share the knowledge accumulated after 20 years of traveling the world as a mobility challenged person. Kate DeLosso is a Certified Travel Counselor, Special Interest Travel Specialist and an Accredited Cruise Counselor and founder of Kate DeLosso Travel. She has lived and worked in Chadds Ford since 1999.

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