Airplane Travel: A Trip to Colorado
I have been invited to Colorado. I am going. I am going alone.
Navigating solo travel
Well, not totally alone. My husband will take me to the closest airport, and there will be other passengers on the plane. I asked for disability assistance to help me navigate through Charlotte. I hope they don’t give me a ride on that silly, little cart that is always beeping.
I can walk if someone points the way. Of course, they probably will anyway. In Denver, I will need to have help getting to the baggage claim where my friend will take “custody”of me.
Touring around town... legally blind
My friend has been talking about everything we can do. The nature hikes look fantastic!
The Denver city tour will be okay if I get lots of “boots on the ground time.” I have always disliked drive-by tourism. I despise it now that I am visually impaired. And now on your left... is a blur that looks exactly like the blur they pointed out on my right a few minutes ago. There is a lot to be said for hop-on-hop-off tours when you are visually impaired.
And spending time with her family
Unless my friend gets tired of me early and banishes me, I will be staying in her home. Her home is also inhabited by her husband and a small dog who is reported to be the same color as the carpet... my friend has a sports jersey to put on him for contrast. Broncos, Nuggets, Rockies? I guess I will find out!
Airplane travel, aces & acts
Personally, I believe this is doable. While not naive about some of the dangers of the world, I generally believe in the kindness of strangers. I also have a legal ace up my sleeve if the travel staff does not treat me well. That ace is the Air Carrier Access Act.
Based on what I learned in the VisionAware article "Air Travel After Vision Loss," we cannot be refused air travel based on our disability. Likewise, we are not required to have an attendant accompanying us. That means I am totally within my rights to fly alone. I told my travel agent I am legally blind and asked for special assistance ahead of time. Early notice is not legally required for a visually impaired person to fly, but I thought it was considerate, especially since I am asking for help.
Oh, and that assistance I asked for? Free. Totally free. Helping getting on and deplaning must be provided to us visually impaired folks. We also have to be given all relevant information in an accessible form.
I don’t imagine too many of us have guide dogs, but if you do, your buddy is welcome on the plane by law.
I believe people with guide dogs know this. Just the same, I would like to add as an aside here, airports generally have designated “potty stops” for service animals near the tarmac. Find out where these areas are in relation to your gate before you travel. Also, make sure you get a front seat or one with extra room so your dog can stretch out and be comfortable as well. If you have no place to put your dog except to block the aisle, the airline is obligated to move you to a different seat. First-class, maybe?😎
If anything goes wrong
The last thing I want to mention here before I sign off is this: According to the law, we get out own complaint department! If any of these rules are violated, we get to complain to our own disability advocate types.
And that, my dears, is my ace up my sleeve. We can do it. We can get help. I will send you a postcard from Colorado.
Has an eye doctor ever left you feeling confused?