What Can A Handicapped Traveler Do To Make Their Check-In And Flight Easier?

What can a handicapped traveler do to make their check-in and flight easier? If you are a passenger with special needs, it is best to make special arrangements before you arrive at the airport. If you are...

If you are a passenger with special needs, it is best to make special arrangements before you arrive at the airport. There are some specific things you can do to make your trip through the airport faster and less stressful.

Because confusion may happen, double check to be sure it is noted that you will need extra assistance.

"Make sure your travel agent or the person making your reservation checks your itinerary," says Milena Garita, Reservations Sales Representative with Continental Airlines. "Be sure it has been documented that you have a wheelchair, or will be needing one."

When the airline is aware of your needs before you arrive, they are better able to get things done quickly. This may save you a lot of time and frustration.

"This also helps with time factors and keeping everything running smoothly," says Garita. "The airport will not know you need a wheel chair or special help unless you let them know that."

There may come a time when things don't work out as you planned. This may be because you forgot to let someone know you would be requiring assistance, or because there was a mixed up with your instructions. There are always people available to help you in the event either of these should occur.

Who you will need to talk to will depend on the nature of your problem.

"If it is something that has to do out in the ticketing, you will need to talk to the ticket agent. There are supervisors all over the airport that can help you, or will find someone who can," says Garita.

This might include problems with your ticket, issues with your luggage, use of a wheelchair, or trouble navigating the airport.

If you've already gone through check-in, you may need to look for someone else.

"If you are physically challenged and you are having a problem with the aircraft itself, they need to talk to the gate agent," explains Garita.

This includes problems boarding the flight or needing extra assistance with your carry-on.

If you have any problems while in the airport, and feel they were not handled to your satisfaction, address the situation as soon as you can.

"One thing I strongly suggest, if you have a complaint or your needs were not met, is to make sure it gets handled at the airport," Garita states. "If you later call the call-center to complain, there is no way the call-center will know what happened."

Garita stresses the importance of knowing who you are talking to at all times.

"Look at the name tag of the person you are talking to," she says. "If you have a complaint later, you know the name of the person you were speaking with. Things will go much more smoothly if you can say: 'On this date I talked to this person and this is what they said'."

Problems arise when people don't understand that the person they spoke with over the phone is not physically located at the airport.

"A lot of folks get mad and feel like they were mishandled. They then call the call-center and I can't help them because I am not at the airport," says Garita.

A physical description is not enough.

"They might say the person was five-foot-seven with brown hair, but that can describe a lot of people who were working at that time. We need more information than that to help you with a complaint," explains Garita.

Despite your best efforts, and those of the airline, things may happen at the airport to make you late or frustrated. Remember to get name, time, and place if you have a complaint to register. The airline will be happy to assist you.

© High Speed Ventures 2011