Better Plane Travel For Kids With Special Needs

Soon after US Airways got a $1.2 million fine for failing to provide proper wheelchair assistance to fliers, news came out that the U.S. Department of Transportation will make flying more accessible.

Some 300 complaints were filed by US Airways customers from 2011 to 2012 about lack of wheelchair assistance at the company’s hub in Charlotte, NC and Philadelphia International, news stories note. Some customers missed connecting flights because of delays getting wheelchairs at the gate, others were left unattended for long periods of time.

The new Dept. of Transportation regulation that will particularly benefit parents whose kids are in wheelchairs is that airlines will now have more options for stowing wheelchairs, reports Disability Scoop. Manual, folding ones can be stored in a closet or even strapped to a row of seats.

I’ve heard horror stories of kids’ wheelchairs getting damaged in transit; hopefully, it will happen a lot less frequently. Going on flights with children who have special needs is never easy, especially if you have a child with sensory issues who is fearful of crowds as we do. There have been times when our family has been allowed special entry through the security system, and times when Max has had screaming crying fits as we waited on line.

There’s a great program called Wings for Autism that lets kids do practice runs at airports. They go in a security lane set aside just for them; board planes provided for the day by airlines; buckle up; and even get a tour of the cockpit. Although the planes never leave the gate, the doors are shut to simulate a real flight. The program takes place at Boston Logan airport twice a year, with one happening earlier this month and another next April. Wings for Autism  is set to expand across the country in upcoming years. Meanwhile, this September Blue Horizons for Autism launched at Kennedy International Airport in New York, a new flight rehearsal program for kids from JetBlue and Autism Speaks.

Meanwhile, parents can call the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Cares Help Line toll-free line at 1-855-787-2227 before flights for questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at security checkpoints. JetBlue, for one, has a dedicated Disability Assistance Line: 1-855-ADA-LINE (855-232-5463).

“All air travelers deserve to be treated equally and with respect, and this includes persons  in wheelchairs and other passengers with disabilities,” U.S. Transportation Secretay Anthony Foxx said in a statement about the new regulations.

To that I add, anything that makes the lives of families traveling with kids who have disabilities easier gives me a real high.

Image of mother and child at airport via Shutterstock 

Add a Comment
Back To To The Max
  1. by Better Plane Travel For Kids With Special Needs...

    On November 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    [...] Soon after US Airways got a $1.2 million fine for failing to provide proper wheelchair assistance to fliers, news came out that the U.S. Department of Transportation will make flying more accessible.  [...]