For those of us who are lucky enough to travel to far off places on our planet, whether it is for business or pleasure, the flight can prove a nightmare, especially if you suffer from a disability. With more planes being designed to fly further such as the 777ER (extended range), and Boeing developing an aircraft that can fly so far it will not require a hub, so no changing planes, our flight time in the same cramped seat is getting longer.
Some people obviously have the money to fly Business Class or First Class, which gives you more comfort, but for the majority of disabled travellers, we are packed up like freight in economy.
So what can you do to improve your trip?
You can start from the point of when you book your flight. The majority of long haul operators will not allow you to book seats in advance, so you can end up being seated anywhere on the day of your flight. The best thing to do here is as soon as your flight is confirmed, is search the airlines web site for the internal seating plan for the aircraft you will be on, and note down the reference numbers for those seats that are only doubles, as these tend to have the most leg room, and are usually situated close to a toilet.
Once you have done that, contact the company concerned informing them that you are disabled, state what your disabilities are, and tell them that it would help your health tremendously if they could reserve the seats you noted earlier. In the majority of cases they will do this.
Another helpful tip when you contact the airline is to ask them for a ‘special’ meal. All airlines now do these, and range from salt free to meat free, fish only to carbohydrate only, etc. You will usually find a list of these on the airlines web site, so check first, if you are unable to find it, just ask them for the list. This service has is extra cost.
The reason you do this is that these ‘special meals’ are handed out before the normal meals, so you finish before everyone else, and do not have to queue up for the toilet, as the majority of other passengers are eating.
If you are looking for a better service on the aircraft, treat the stewards with respect. I always hand them a couple of boxes of chocolates as soon as we reach cruising altitude, this usually ensures I get preferential treatment.
Most of all enjoy your flight and trip.