In case you’ve seen our recent post on the top-rated handicap toilets, you might also be interested to know what the conditions are for a person with disabilities when traveling by plane. Besides all the things you need to know about how to get the necessary assistance within the aircraft, there’s also the time spent within airports that you need to think about.
The good news is that any airport needs to have facilities designated for those with disabilities, including toilets. It’s also good to know that within the United States the Department of Transportation has established a set of rules that need to be followed, so you need to be aware of what rights a handicapped person has when traveling within the country.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what some of these regulations are, as well as at other things that you need to keep in mind as you are planning to travel with a person with disabilities.
Airport rules that are good to know
When a passenger that suffers from disabilities requires assistance from the airline he or she is traveling with, the personnel is required to promptly provide all the necessary assistance. This includes things such as guidance for blind individuals or providing wheelchair assistance if the passenger has a mobility impairment.
In order to benefit from this kind of services, the passenger needs to self-identify as the person who needs such assistance, and this can be done to the airline’s staff at the airport. Moreover, the airlines are also required to ensure continuous assistance to such passengers, as they need to navigate through different airport areas.
These can include various situations as from the entrance within the terminal to the departure gate, including the intermediary points such as the security checkpoint, all the way to the seat within the aircraft. The same goes if the passenger is in transit and has required the same assistance to the connecting flight.
Once the passenger reaches the destination, the airline needs to ensure the necessary assistance from the gate toward the baggage claim area, and then all the way to the terminal entrance or vehicle pick-up point.
What about luggage?
If a passenger suffering from disabilities is not able to carry his or her luggage due to the physical condition, the airline staff needs to provide assistance for this as well. Moreover, according to traveling regulations, a passenger who requires special assistance cannot be left unattended for more than 30 minutes.
This applies even when there is another person accompanying the handicapped individual unless he or she states that it’s ok to be left unattended for a longer period. When it comes to using the toilet, there are some rules you might want to be aware of in this case as well.
If a passenger that requires assistance requests to stop and use the bathroom, the assisting staff needs to do so, as long as the bathroom is on the way to the destination and this stop can be made without causing an unreasonable delay.
As you are planning the trip
Since any trip requires some planning in advance, the same applies when a person dealing with disabilities is traveling. In fact, in this case, it’s a lot more important to properly plan any step of the trip, in order to avoid any unpleasant surprise that could appear.
First of all, when you are thinking about the places you are going to visit, you should make sure that they are accessible and everything can go smoothly. Moreover, it’s a good idea to have some contingency solutions in case plans don’t work out as expected.
You should also gather all the information you find about the places you are about to visit and make all the necessary arrangements well in advance if this is possible. The more you know, the better you can prepare for a nice trip with no unfortunate events.
Another very important thing to remember, especially when traveling to foreign countries, is that not every place offers the same conditions and rights for those with disabilities. This can apply anywhere you might be, whether it’s the airport or the local hotel you’ve chosen.
Every country has different regulations when it comes to this, so the only thing you can do is prepare in advance and steer clear of those places where travel can be either very difficult or even impossible.
While there are many things that we want to see as we go traveling, it’s important to plan dedicated time for breaks between more intense travel or visiting periods. This way, you can make sure that everything is enjoyed and nothing feels rushed or too tiring to be pleasant.
Of course, travel sites, guides, and blogs are one of the most effective ways to get relevant information about the places you are planning to visit. Additionally, make sure that you also check out the local laws and regulations, by taking a look at the information provided by authorities.
For special situations, remember that the local embassy or consulate can provide the needed assistance or more detailed information. Online reviews are also a relevant and useful source of information, especially when it comes to figuring out what the best places for disabled individuals to visit are in terms of accessibility and facilities provided.
Ask for details about special accommodations
No matter where you go, you need to establish before booking whether the location offers special amenities for disabled persons. Of course, these can also depend on each disability, so it’s a good idea to contact them directly so that you know if they are useful for a particular case.
Airlines, hotels, and popular touristic venues normally provide everything needed, but the same cannot be guaranteed when it comes to local transportation or less-popular sites. Along the same lines, you need to investigate further in case you are traveling with a pet as well.
It’s good to know that under the US law, prohibiting service animals or charging extra fees for them is unlawful. You should also make sure that you take enough time to get to the airport or to a certain place if extra time will be needed in order to accommodate the needed assistance.
Last but certainly not least, it’s a very good idea to talk to a doctor before planning any trip with a disabled individual, in order to make sure that it doesn’t involve any risks that might otherwise affect his or her health. In order to enjoy a pleasant trip, it’s important to be well-rested and strong enough for all the exciting activities that can fit within the schedule.
In case it doesn’t seem like a good idea for the moment, maybe the trip can be delayed for a while until the person with disabilities is in good shape and can enjoy the entire experience.
As a general rule, no matter how well-planned a trip is, there are always unexpected situations that can appear, so it’s better to be ready to face them and have back-up plans. You can include other nearby activities in case the line for a certain site is too long or there is no special access ensured.