Flying the friendly skies this winter? It can be quick and easy!

Flying the friendly skies this winter? It can be quick and easy!
Photo by: Innerparty (Stock Exchange)

Good morning, everybody! Welcome to Disabled Travelers, and welcome to one of the most hectic times to travel! Millions of people fly between Thanksgiving and New Year, to spend time with the family or make the pilgrimage to Times Square. Plenty of folks will also be going abroad to see extended family in other countries. It’s an exhilarating, but challenging time, so here are some tips to help you take it easy!

1) Always call ahead: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: taking the time to call ahead is always the best way to make sure your accessibility needs are taken care of. Phone ahead early to let your airline know if you need a wheelchair within the terminal or any other kind of assistance; for just about everything, the airline is your point of contact, not the airport. Phone again as the trip date approaches to confirm.

2) Use Major Carriers When You Can … But Shop Around: Major airlines are likely to be better equipped for disabled travelers than regional ones. But depending on where you’re going, local airlines can sometimes offer much better fares and personalized service. To get the best price, compare “packages” from sites like Expedia to rates from both the big time and underdog airlines.

3) Try to Fly in the Middle of the Week: If plans are flexible, remember that weekends tend to be the highest traffic and most expensive days to fly. If possible, fly through the middle of the week, between Tuesday and Thursday, and look for nonstop flights.

Flights through the middle of the week can often be under-booked, while those during the weekend tend to be overbooked. Overbooked flights are uncomfortable, though airlines will sometimes offer rewards to give your seat to another passenger while you wait for a later flight. Under-booked flights offer more opportunities to upgrade at reduced rates.

4) Need a Hotel? Try has always been one of the “big names” for searching hotels online. Earlier this year, they made finding disabled hotels much easier by making accessibility options part of their searchable database. Though this part of the search function remains pretty simple, the site benefits from having one of the largest networks of affiliated hotels out there. Make it one of your first stops.

5) Scope Out Trouble Spots: For the most part, modern commercial flights are quick and easy, and even security screening is pretty fast at most airports. But the holiday season makes things a bit more hectic. Be aware of the three major things that can cause setbacks in your travel plans:

a) Security screenings: These tend to be quick, but they’re much more thorough around the holiday season and for international flights. If you can, arrive earlier than usual. Long lines are the norm through December, and though airport personnel will be on the lookout for passengers at risk of missing a flight, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

b) Connecting flights: It’s always surprised me how little time air carriers give to cross the terminal, especially for disabled travelers. You may not be able to control the timing of your connections, but check up on this while you’re booking. Less than 30 minutes is a recipe for trouble. Even if you have 45 minutes or more, consult the terminal maps available on your airport website. And of course, if you have over an hour, you can catch lunch or dinner.

c) Getting out of the airport: The last challenge in any air journey is actually escaping the airport! If you’re expecting a rental car to be waiting for you when you get there, call ahead. If you’ll be taking the airport shuttle, check with the information desk to make sure it can accommodate your needs. The information desk can also help you arrange alternative transport from local providers.

Holiday travel can be tricky, but it’s worth it! I spent last New Year in Times Square, and will be enjoying this one from the warm climes of Tampa, Florida. Wherever you travel, keep it safe and remember: the important thing is to have fun! See you next time …


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