This past year I have made about five airline reservations for a family member who is in his nineties and traveling solo. He hasn’t flown in about thirty five years and we all know how airports and airlines have changed in that time. Seeing all the news about passengers being dragged off flights, fights at TSA security check lines and hearing from friends how difficult air travel can be, it was no wonder that he was nervous and apprehensive.
To help him, I first found out which airline would have a nonstop flight and then made a reservation for him. Unfortunately there were not any good aisle seats for him other than the exit row and he did not belong in that row. I found out that American Airlines, the airline I had the reservation with, had a special services department. After the reservation was made and I had him unfortunately in a middle seat, I called the special services number. I explained that he was in his nineties, had two knee replacements, two hip replacements and two shoulder replacements and it would be difficult for him to climb over someone or have someone climb over him. They were sympathetic and informed me that they could give him a different seat at no charge. They moved him to the aisle seat in row seven. I did this for all of his flights and it worked smoothly. In addition, we ordered a wheelchair to take him from the ticket counter to the gate.
With my impending transatlantic flight I wondered if I should call United for some assistance since I am still recovering from the three fractures that I have in my arm. I called the United special needs number, explained my situation but wondered if they could supply me with some extra pillows to rest my arm on and to surround me a little bit from being accidentally hit when someone goes up and down the aisle. Once again, no problem. They were quite happy to help. They asked if I needed anything else. I mentioned that I was not allowed to life and even though I wasn’t brining luggage with me, I did have a small tote bag that I would need some help getting it into the overhead bins. They noted it on my record. Finally, they wanted to know if I needed wheelchair assistance (“no, thank you”).
Here are the numbers that I have:
American Airlines 800-237-7976
United Airlines 800-228-2744
Delta Airlines 800-984-8935
Knowing how helpful the airlines are, I called the cruise line that I will be traveling on, again to request additional pillows and when he delivers my suitcase to put it on the bed since I cannot lift it and place it there myself. I am not sleeping flat yet, have to be propped up and sometimes need a pillow to rest my arm on. No problem – noted in my record.
The purpose of writing this is that many passengers are not aware that there is a special assistance/needs department within the airlines, cruise ships and I’m sure hotels. If you make travel arrangements for someone who could use a little bit of help or you need a little help, please call them in advance and they are more than happy to help you.