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What Frustrates Me About Air Travel With a Disability

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I have always enjoyed watching the sun rise and set, but these photos don’t do justice to how beautiful a sunrise or sunset can be, especially when you are flying through them on an airplane.

Aside from seeing beauty and adventures only travel can show, I appreciate the safe and secure feeling flight crews provide.

I have a physical disability that limits my ability to support my lower half and walk unaided. This doesn’t mean I am less deserving of experiencing adventure. Although I enjoy many aspects of flying, there is one huge issue I want to address.

I have flown many times, so I understand that people with disabilities are often the first to get on the plane and the last to get off. That doesn’t upset me. But I had to take a total of four flights in order to be present at my grandfather’s funeral, and half the time my family had to pick me up and carry me off the plane in order to catch my other flights. I waited 20 minutes past the time it took everyone to get off the plane before anyone considered getting the aisle chair I needed, and then it still didn’t arrive.

I appreciate my family being there, because I would not have made my flights or been there for my grandfather if it wasn’t for them, but I am 21. I’m almost too heavy for them to pick me up, and it’s embarrassing that I can’t be independent because others are not doing their job correctly.

You have to do better, United. As someone who wants to travel and has the right to travel for a career, I am not asking for much, but please meet me halfway. When I wait for everyone to get off the plane before I can even go to my next destination, I simply ask you to be there and ready for me. Please do not make me wait even longer and fear missing my next adventure just because I have a physical disability. My disability makes me fight for my capabilities daily; I don’t need to stress over something I know is possible as long as others do their part.

Lastly, please address me when speaking of a situation that has to do with me. Again, just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent enough to know what is going on. Help me out and I’ll return the favor just as anyone would. Different doesn’t mean less.

Originally published: November 1, 2018
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