Getting airport assistance?

#1

So I’m told there are ways to get assistance at the airport while travelling (for example, I’ll have to navigate with a cane and two suitcases and a backpack), but I have no idea where to start. I’m going to Mexico in August and I’ve devised a system to hook my suitcases together in case I can’t get help at one of the four airports I’ll be travelling through (Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Mexico City, and LAX), but having help would be, well, helpful. I didn’t have to ask for help at LAX the last time I went through, someone just put themselves in charge of getting me off the plane and through customs, but I’m told this stuff can be arranged in advance. Anyone know anything about this?

#2

You can ask for wheelchair assistance from the airline. Just indicate that you need handicapped assistance on your plane reservation. Modify your reservation to include this.

Travel as light as you can, since one hand isn’t free with a cane. Maybe try a wheeling luggage carrier. A rollator is handy for carrying thins, and can be folded on the plane.

I hope this is helpful. Have fun!

#3

Airport assistance is organised by your airline - you need to contact the carrier at least 48hrs prior to departure ( I would recommend ASAP after the flight is booked) and they will organise for you. Some carriers you can book on line others you will need to call their special assistance team and a contact number should be noted on their website. Some airports will be able to provide assistance from arrival at the airport door to check-in. Have a great time

#4

I always call the airline directly and let them know I need a wheelchair at each destination. I have lots of $5 bills ready to tip the people who push me from gate to gate. The airlines are accommodating.

Shelley

#5

Domestic flights and flights by American carriers are required to provided assistance by law. As others have said, this can often be set up online but may require a call. Many airlines will also allow this to become part of your traveler profile. Some airlines have a one size fits all way of providing accommodations and require you to use wheelchair service, while others will provide someone for sighted guide and luggage assistance. It is also helpful, I have found, to restate your request when checking in and to ask that they have verified that it is in the system for each airport you will pass through or arrive at. By the way, not only do airlines provide assistance but other transportation carriers too like Amtrak.

International can be more hot and miss, but I have not done Mexico City to offer advice. Foreign carriers can be quite a different story. One Asian airline I will be using rather than being friendly about it gave lots of warnings that passengers declaring disabilities or medical conditions may be required to provide physician documentation to be allowed to fly, although it did not happen to me.

#6

According to FAA and ACAA, any airline going to or from an American airport is required to provide handicap assistance. I use a scooter when traveling as my wheelchair is to heavy for my handling. I will gate check it and take it to the airplane door and receive it there as well. Any Mobility issues are better handled by calling the airlines directly. Although the disability crew at the airport aren’t supposed to have tips as a means of their salary they seem to provide a better service for you. This is the main reason I invested in a scooter. As far as any damage to your equipment, I don’t worry because the airlines are responsible for repairs or replacement of it. If they say otherwise, again they are going against the FAA and ACAA. Have a safe and wonderful time.

#7

My wife sets it up when we get our tickets and someone is usually there waiting for us and helps us to our gate. And then someone helps us on the plane to our seat.

#8

We regularly get airport wheelchair assistance for my wife, including travel to Mexico, and we have never had an issue after arranging for the assistance needed with the airline. Please bear in mind three things:

– Be VERY specific about what you can and can’t do - can you manage a few steps or walking a short distance? Can you manage getting yourself onto the plane if they bring you to the door?
– Ask for a wheelchair. Even if you feel that you’d be able to walk the distances (slowly and with help), you’re going to get the best assistance if you request and accept a wheelchair.
– Prepare to tip your assistant generously. $5 should be your bare minimum, even just for a short distance from gate to gate. $10 absolute minimum if they’re taking you through customs. Add more if you have more complex needs or baggage, have to do a long stop at the restroom (the longer you take, the longer it will be until they can be assigned to others), or simply have the resources to tip generously – if you think nothing of buying a $5 coffee or a $10 drink, then give at least that much extra to your assistant. These folks get paid VERY little, and I will tell you that pushing a wheelchair over the carpeted hallways of an airport is HARD WORK (I know!!).

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#9

From my own experience the only assistance offered at the airports has been an attendant pushed wheelchair. I normally walk with a cane. So my option was ONLY wheelchair which i would not be allowed to operate myself as the airports themselves require their own wheelchair to only be manned by airports personnel. I had previously witnessed people in chairs being pushed to the gate by attendants. They are left at the gate until boarding when the attendant returns to push the chair to the plane door. That was not acceptable to me as i have watched people struggle to get help to buy a water or to be pushed to the rest room. I did a bit of research to find this wasnt an airline specific problem. The system is just very lacking. I checked into renting a mobility scooter to use so i could remain totally independent and also have the added capacity to help me with my light luggage. And even looked on ebay and Craigslist for mobility scooters. I figured i could buy one for my upcoming trip to try it out and i could always try to resell if it didnt work out. Well. In the end i decided to buy the cheapest drive brand mobility scooter for only about $500 brand spanking new with free shipping. Amazon walmart walgreens have them online. That was 3 years ago and I love it. Ive flown with it several times as well as brought it on the amtrak a few times! Changed my life really. I have more independent travel. I remain seated on it while waiting but i have the option to see and go into shops at my own pace. Im also not restricted to it exclusively as i carry a folding cane in my basket. I can go farther & I’m always seated so im more comfortable. The long security lines and waits are no biggie now! A huge plus. Good luck on your travels!

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#10

I always call my airline before my trip and advise them that I am handicapped and will need assistance as I arrive and in between flights in getting from one plane to next. Each time I got off one flight there was an attendant with either a wheelchair or a motorized carrier depending upon airport and distance between planes. I have had excellent service at Dallas-Ft Worth, Seattle, Atlanta Charlotte, Portland, OR, etc.

#11

Great answers here! I’ll re-emphasize what someone else said: be VERY specific about what you can and can’t do.

Can you stand in line for TSA? Can you walk through the scanner?
Can you walk the corridor to the plane? Can you walk on the plane?

If your disability is invisible or variable, they may assume a higher level of ability that you actually have. In order to make things smoother, I often call ahead in addition to having the “needs assistance” on my ticket. There’s someone in charge of disability arrangements for each airline. They can help make sure your notes are attached to your ticket.