Disabled Airline Traveling Tips
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+11624) 14 days ago
My wife Karen and I just got back from a 78 day trip to the eastern seaboard (Pennsylvania, New Jersey) to see family and friends, and attend a wedding. While overall it was a fun trip, on Sunday it took a turn for the worst when Karen tripped on a step in my cousins rental house garage and fractured her kneecap, got a nasty bump on her head, and possibly tore a rotator cuff. After 6 hours in the hospital, she was discharged with a stabilizer on her leg with instructions not to put any weight on it, an to keep it straight. We then faced the dilemma of how to fly home the following day.

Faced with that, I got on the phone with the airlines. From my last two days of air travel, I thought I would share my experience should any of you end up in such a predicament. Note that we we flying Delta, so I have no idea how other airlines would treat you.

1. Tip #1: Call the main airline phone number, be prepared to spend a lot of time on hold. Sure it was annoying, but these are the people who have the power to mke decisions. After explaining our situation, we were placed into bulkhead seats so that Karen could keep her leg straight.

2. Tip #2: As well meaning as the people at the gate are, they are dealing with chaos and have no real authority to make decisions about flight status changes. After we sat on the Philadelphia tarmac for 8 hours Monday, we of course had missed our connection home when we arrived in Minneapolis. When I went to the counter to get rebooked, I found that they had already put us on the next available flight that got us home the soonest, with no seat assignments to guarantee Karen sufficient leg room. Problem was, it involved a connection, and Karen with her broken leg wanted to minimize the wheelchair loading/unloading transfer time. The folks at the desk had a bunch of other passengers who needed to be rebooked and had no time to deal with our situation. So, I got us a hotel in Minneapolis (Mall of America!), a taxi, and once we were settled in, I called the national number again and got everything worked out.

Hope this will help another fellow air traveler who might face a similar predicament. I know, no real reason for this post, but I needed something to do while I drank this decompression beer and shot of whiskey after two horrific days of air travel.
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