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Friday, February 28, 2014

What your travel luggage says about you

If you face difficulties while moving or are disabled, you can get access to a number of facilities to make things simpler while travelling from one place to the other. Today, a number of countries, airports and airlines have taken it upon themselves to ensure that disabled individuals get access to all travel facilities and do not face any sort of problems when they decide from one place to the other. However, there are a few suggestions and travel tips for disabled passengers that can help make life a lot simpler for them.

Before the journey

Before you begin your journey, it is important to understand the kind of assistance you need in order to be able to feel comfortable and to be able to move from one place to the other. All airlines, travel agencies, airports and tour operators clearly mention the kinds of services that they offer for disabled passengers and you can understand the various policies offered by the airline even before you book your journey by simply visiting the airline’s website. Remember that different airlines have different rules when it comes to disabled passengers and it is essential that you go through the rules and policies to prevent hassles later on.

The Booking Process

Make sure that you always inform the airline or your travel agent about your disability while booking your journey. There are a few guidelines that all disabled passengers must follow while booking their flight tickets to prevent any issues later on. You need to make sure that you request for the disability service at least 48 hours prior to departure. Remember that the booking staff might not ask you if you need any special assistance while booking your ticket. You should make sure that you take the initiatives and describe your problem to them so that the airline understands your exact needs for the journey. An airline might also ask you to provide medical clearance for flying if it feels that your health might be affected while you fly. However, passengers who have a stable disability do not need to provide any sort of medical clearance only on the basis of their disabilities. It is also important to carry a letter from a registered physician or doctor if you need to carry any liquid medicines in your hand baggage so that you are allowed to carry the same in your hand luggage.

The airport

You can simply visit the airport website to understand the types of disability services that they offer to passengers. The airport should have a dedicated help point for disabled passengers. If you require any special assistance and have already pre-booked your requirements, you can find this from these help points.

The Check-in Process

Make sure that you reconfirm the assistance that you need before you check-in. If you perform a web check in, you should be offered with an option to confirm the special assistance and select the best possible seat. If not, it is always better to call up the airline directly. Generally, all wheelchair passengers need to get their wheelchairs checked in and use the airport wheelchairs to board the flights. However, there are variations to this rule depending on the severity of the disability. Disabled passengers are also allowed to carry two items of mobility equipment with them on the flight. It is important to check with your airline if they have any specific policies towards to the same or whether there are any special rules or regulations that you need to be aware of.

Moving within the airport

As long as you have informed the airline about your disability in advance, you should not feel worried about moving within the airport as they have dedicated personnel to assist you with the entire process. Right from carrying your bags to check points to assisting you with the security checks to getting you seated in the flight comfortably, there is always an airline staff present to assist you.

Boarding the flight

Generally, all disabled passengers are called for boarding before the other passengers are allowed to board. The way a disabled passenger boards ultimately depends on the severity of the disability and the equipment available at the airport. Some airlines use an air bridge which provides level access into the cabin. However, there are other flights which do not use the air bridge system. In this case, you are generally lifted to the aircraft with the help of Ambulifts. If Ambulifts are not available, the airport staff and stair climbers may simply lift your wheelchair up the stairs and into the cabin. Remember that irrespective of the choice offered you do not need to worry as all airport and airline staff who deal with transporting public from the gates to the planes and vice versa have must train for disability awareness.

The On-board experience

Generally, your wheel chair needs to be stored in the luggage hold as they cannot be secured in the cabin. Therefore, if you use a powered wheelchair, make sure that it uses a dry cell battery. It may also help to put a note on your wheelchair to explain how it functions. In most of the cases, disabled passengers are offered with comfortable seats that offer more leg room to make things more comfortable for them. If you feel that the seat offered is not to your liking, you can always request the airline to make a change. Most airlines also allow assistance dogs in the cabin without any extra charge. The larger dogs must sit on the cabin floor while the smaller ones can sit on their owner’s lap. However, if there are space constraints or if the dog is quite large, airlines might charge you for a second seat as well. Make sure that you confirm the same with the aircraft as certain routes do not allow the presence of guide dogs on board.

Departing the aircraft

Your departure from the aircraft is generally as hassle free as your entry. As a disabled passenger, you are given a preference for departure, provided you are seated close to the exits. Moreover, there is an airline staff present at all times to ensure that you have a comfortable time and are able to get off from the aircraft and collect your baggage without any hassles. It is also customary for airlines to assist with the immigration or customs procedures and be with you till you are ready to move to the next segment of your journey.

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