Flying while disabled
A tale of pre-holiday anxiety
Tomorrow I am going on holiday! Finally. I am going to do nothing except swim and nap for a whole week and it is going to be glorious.
Still, the whole enterprise is not without a little trepidation. Travelling while disabled is a nightmare. No matter how much planning you put into it, there’s just so many things that have the potential and propensity to go wrong.
Most of my anxiety is reserved for the flight. Here’s a list of the things wheelchair users worry about before heading to the airport:
How many people will I have to convince that my chair battery is safe to fly (bear in mind it literally has a logo of a plane with a big old tick over it)?
Will they let me stay in my chair all the way to the aircraft door?
Will they remember to take my chair to the hold?
Will they break said chair?
Will assistance turn up to get me on the plane before everyone else or will I be publicly humiliated by having to hold everyone up because they’re late?
Will assistance hurt me because they don’t listen to how to move me?
Will I be able to go to the loo on board? (Almost certainly not)
Will I have to wait an hour after landing for assistance to come and get me off?
Will my chair be brought back to the aircraft door or will it be flung onto the baggage conveyor belt?
All of which means I don’t really get the holiday-excitement buzz until we have landed and I’m back in my wheelchair. And to be honest, that feels unfair. I want to be able to enjoy leaving real life behind on the runway but, when systems are designed so inaccessibly, real life follows you around like a bad smell.
And even once we’ve left the airport, there will be a new set of concerns:
Has the hotel remembered to allocate us the exact room we booked?
Was the photo of the bathroom a good representation of what we’re going to get, and will I be able to use the loo/shower easily?
How much confusion will be caused by the fact I - and not my PAs - am paying?
I had planned to mitigate the first and second issues by booking rooms I have stayed in before, but thanks to care shenanigans I had to delay booking and naturally the rooms I wanted were gone by the time I called up. Which proves my lifelong hypothesis that there is very little point trying to make life easier for yourself because it’ll just find another way to be complicated.
All that being said, I am so looking forward to being away. I just wish the travel industry’s failure to properly accommodate disabled people didn’t ruin some of the excitement.
I’ll let you know how it goes. See you on the other side,
Looking for Links of the Week?
This popular feature of The View From Down Here is changing! From now on, along with the weekly columns, paid subscribers will receive a bonus monthly round up of things to read.
These links will focus on disability, ableism and allyship - after all, that’s why we’re all here! - but I also promise to keep the odd esoteric read that will always make you think.
So, don’t miss out. Sign up for a paid subscription today!