Tips for Disabled Travelers
Traveling by Airplane
- Ask if the airport and plane wheelchair accessible.
- Are there jetways for boarding and deplaning? If there are not jetways (expandable corridors that connect the terminal and the plane all at one level with no steps), what will be the procedure for getting you on and off the plane if you use a wheelchair and cannot walk?
- Is the airplane lavatory accessible by on-board aisle wheelchairs?
- Is the door wide enough?
- Are the assistance devices, door handles and toilet handles at lower levels?
- Is there extra floor space for easy maneuvering? (If the lavatories are not accessible, consider limiting your intake of fluids for a few hours before as well as during your flight.)
- Are the armrests in the plane movable for easier transfer between aisle chair and passenger seat?
- Are there any special arrangements for storing and transporting your wheelchair on the plane if it cannot be brought directly on board? You may want to consider taking out extra insurance on your wheelchair if you are transporting it in the baggage area. Always be sure to inspect your chair for any damage as soon as you reach your destination.
- Will there be assistance available at the baggage area?
- Are hearing impaired travelers able to make travel reservations over the phone with the use of a teletypewriter for the deaf?
- Is oxygen equipment permitted /provided on board?
- Are batteries for motorized wheelchairs permitted on board?
- Are there quarantine regulations regarding guide dogs if you are traveling overseas?
- Are accommodations made to relay important emergency information to the hearing impaired and the blind?
- Give the airlines plenty of notice and be honest about your condition. Tell them as much as you can about your disability and what they can do to help. Explain both your limitations and capabilities. And always, always double check your reservation and special arrangements the week before your scheduled departure. Reconfirm your arrangements a few days before your trip. Get written confirmations of everything the airline assures you it will provide.
Let the airline or travel agent know:
- The nature of your disability. Be as specific and as pertinent as possible so there is no chance for misunderstanding.
- What you will need for moving about: i.e., wheelchair (and whether it is motorized), crutches, cane.
- Whether you will require assistance in entering or leaving the aircraft or to reach your seat or the bathroom.
- Whether you have specific diet requirements and whether you need assistance with your meals.
- Whether you need assistance with luggage when checking in or out.
- Whether another person will be accompanying you.
- Whether you require a seat in the no-smoking area or one near the toilet facilities.
- Whether or not you are able to walk a few steps or if you are completely unable to walk.
Traveling by Train
- Do the seats on the train and in the club car have movable armrests for easy transfer?
- Can you remain in your wheelchair if you prefer?
- Can you be located near an accessible rest room?
- Does the rest room have a wide entrance and a large turn-around space inside?
- Is it equipped with grab bars?
- Can the attendant serve your meals at your seat instead of having you travel to the dining car?
- Is there plenty of room for wheelchair mobility in the sleeper cars?
- Are Seeing Eye and Hearing dogs allowed to travel on the train?
- Are there special quarantine requirements for Guide dogs?
- Are accommodations made to relay important destination and emergency information to the hearing impaired and the blind?
- Are there any available discounts for the disabled or for those who require the assistance of an attendant?
- Do you have to make special arrangements to store your wheelchair if you are not allowed to remain in it during transit?
- Is there a fee for wheelchair storage?
- Make reservations well in advance.
- Let them know what kind of assistance you will need. Be concise about your capabilities as well as your limitations.
- Confirm that both the stations you are departing from and arriving at have adequate provisions if you use a wheelchair.
- Check to see if the boarding area is level, if a hydraulic lift will be used for boarding or if you will be able to use a ramp.
- Determine and confirm how you will get to the boarding area.
Cruise Ship Travel
- Is there room to maneuver a wheelchair on deck and in the stateroom?
- Are the doorways to the cabin, bathroom, dining area, recreation area and night club wide enough for a wheelchair?
- Are there partitions (that prevent water from entering) between the bathroom and the living area in the stateroom?
- Are there grab bars near the toilet and tub?
- Does the line require any medical verification that you are able to travel?
- Are you required to travel with a companion?
- Do any special arrangements have to be made for on-land tours if the mode of transportation (bus/car) is not accessible to you?
- Would there be someone available in the event you needed assistance in getting on or off the ship?
- Is it possible to move to all passenger decks in a wheelchair?
Staying in Hotel and Motel
- If the hotel or motel claims to be accessible, find out exactly what that means. Take nothing for granted.
- Since there are only one or two "accessible" rooms available in each hotel or motel, it is best to make your reservations as far in advance as
- Is there disabled/handicapped parking available?
- Is the entrance to the building from the street level, or are there steps? How many steps? Is there a portable ramp available?
- What is the accessibility to other public rooms like the restaurant, lounge, bar and/or meeting rooms?
- Are the public bathroom doors wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair?
- Is the swimming pool accessible without steps?
- Are elevator buttons low enough for a person in a wheelchair to reach? Are the floor stops indicated in Braille? Is there a voice system indicating or announcing the floor?
- Are there assistance devices in the room if you need them?
- If the closets are "walk-in," are they at least 32 inches wide?
- Is there a step or partition at the bathroom door or the door entering the room?
- Is there enough space in the room for a wheelchair to move around easily?
- Do bathrooms have grab bars near the toilet and tub?
- Can wheelchairs fit under the bathroom sink?
- Are there amplified telephones?
- Are there Braille menus?
- Is there a teletypewriter reservation system or other telecommunication devices for the deaf?
- Are Guide dogs permitted?
- How far is the special "handicap room" from the elevator?
- Is the elevator large enough to maneuver a wheelchair in and out of by oneself?
- Is the handicap room on the first floor in case of an emergency?
- Are the floors heavily carpeted? (This can make mobility very difficult.)
There are many books, articles, dedicated groups and websites that can assess you with future information.