On the tail end of the pandemic, I’ve been doing my fair share of travel this year as the world re-opens and people have begun to congregate again. Most of my traveling is for work, as I move around the continent educating people on inclusive play, playing on playgrounds, and leading design workshops. With plenty of pandemic funding going to parks and recreation, there’s an absolute boom in new parks and inclusive spaces.
Traveling with a disability, as frequently as I’ve been at it this year, certainly has its hiccups. Personally, I prefer using Delta Airlines (as indicated by my Delta hoodie). I’ve had the best luck with them in terms of my mobility equipment. If they do make a mistake, they’ve always worked to make it right for me. The pain points of travel that I’ve seen repeated this year comes in the subtlety of education. Many people don’t know how to communicate or act around people with disabilities. They don’t understand the critical nature of accommodations.
Obtaining an Accessible Rental Car
For example, I had requested a rental car with hand controls. I called with ample time to secure the reservation. The corporate office called to say it was all set and scheduled. When I arrived at the counter to get my vehicle, I was told it had never been delivered. After speaking to a total of seven representatives to find out if the car was in the nearby area, I learned that disability assistance is only available Monday to Friday (pardon me for being disabled outside of business hours). Many people weren’t trained to handle disability assistance and they said they could prepare the car for me to pick up by the middle of next week. Silly me for requesting a vehicle for the day I actually wanted it.
Fortunately for me, my parents had been in the area to help me get to where I needed to go, whereas the rental company pretty much had told me “too bad.” I can understand many of the finer points of staffing and training, however, the absolute chaos that ensued when they needed to find a solution seemed unwarranted.
Support from Flight Attendants When Flying
As for flying, my favorite flights are staffed by attendants who might not know exactly what I need yet are more than willing to help. Most importantly, they listen. Questions such as “How do you want your chair positioned?” and “What can I do to make sure you get to your seat as comfortably as possible?” truly add up. Those questions give me autonomy and no one casting negative light or thought on my way of doing things.
I’ve also received some fierce support this month from flight attendants. There was an incident where another passenger requested compensation for having to switch seats with “some cripple.” (Seriously, who even talks that way anymore?) Shout out to the attendants who put the man in the back of the plane, next to the bathroom!
About Jill Moore White: Jill is an inclusive play specialist, bringing accessible playgrounds to local communities. She volunteers with disability organizations, including the Disability EmpowHER Network. Jill enjoys music, sketching and playing video games. Click here to learn more about Jill.
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