Lessons learned part 1: Flying lessons

This is a continuation from the post: The story begins…

The most important lesson: The day ended well, believe it or not; I did something right!

It ended well because I made the choice, even though I was tired and she was stiff (she had slept on the plane so she wasn’t tired), to take us out to dinner at one of our old favorite spots, Sherman’s deli, which has outdoor seating, and we had good food, accompanied by good memories on a beautiful warm evening. The challenges of the day faded into the background, drowned out by making a pleasant new memory to join those old ones.

Flying lessons:

Heading to the Sky with someone who is mobility impaired isn’t a cake walk.

Lesson #1: I didn’t know it, but different airports handle the wheel chair assist differently. Coming home Grandma was left in the wheel chair and we were able to go outside and enjoy the warm day while we were waiting. If she had needed to do so she could have used the restroom. At SeaTac they move the person into a seat and take off with the chair. In the future I will find out ahead of time how the airport handles it and see if we can borrow or rent the airport chair, or, worst case, bring our own walker/wheelchair combo (Duet by Drive) to the gate and gate check it, so we aren’t stranded.

Lesson #2: Make sure I have a sharp pointed pen for making a hole in the plastic bag and a straw to put through the hole to push the zip tie through.

Lesson #3: Do not trust the airline, even the accessibility assistant person about seating. Make my own seating arrangements then call and get the wheelchairs arranged.

Lesson #4: Only fly non-stop, if at all possible. I kind of knew this one, but the trip happened fast and our flight choices were limited. I found out about a week before we left that I had to go. Since Grandma was feeling well after a series of health problems I asked if she wanted to come along. I do not for one minute regret that, but I might have asked a few more questions while making the reservation, and even delayed the trip a day to get a non-stop. We had a non-stop on the return and it was much easier on both of us.

Lesson #5: We got a really good sandwich (from Wolfgang Puck’s) to eat on the plane. It was much better than the airline offerings, however, it was not really adequate for two of us. I was planning to get more food for the flight and couldn’t because we had to get to the new gate. It would have been better to not put off that task.

Time for sharing (use the comment box to respond):

  • What are your experiences in dealing with airports and flights? Any wisdom to share?
  • How does your local airport handle the wheelchair assistance? Do they leave the chair so you can move about after they leave or are you stuck?
  • Do you have any other tips for having a pleasant flight?

Author: Kate

Formerly a stress engineer, I now do this and that. Which involves some website design and maintenance, some photography, some writing, eldercare for relatives, walking my furry friends, a bit of gardening and as little housekeeping as I can manage.

4 thoughts on “Lessons learned part 1: Flying lessons”

    1. The heavy duty plastic bag was supplied by the airline for us to put the walker in so that its brake lines and various parts that stick out, like the handles won’t catch on the baggage handling equipment. The idea is that the bag is big enough to encase the walker and be gathered together with a zip tie that has the baggage tag on it. Grandma’s walker is bulkier than normal because it converts into a wheel chair. There wasn’t enough bag left to gather once we got it in, so we taped the end, then realized that there was nothing to which we could attach the luggage tag. So we decided to thread the zip tie through the taped layers of bag and one of the wheels. We used a ball point pen to make the hole but the zip tie was flexible and kept getting caught on layers of bag or bits of walker. On our way out of town we finally had to attach the zip tie to the pocket clip of my husband’s pen, then use the pen like a giant yarn needle. It wasn’t easy but it worked. I don’t carry high quality pens when I travel so coming home I thought if I had a straw I could push it through after the pen since it is stiffer than the tie, and thread the zip tie through the straw so it wouldn’t catch on things, then pull the straw out. I still wonder if that would work.

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