If you are flying to your Disney destination with a disability or medical condition and have concerns about TSA security requirements, this episode is for you!
In this abbreviated episode, Kathy shares a valuable resource for air travelers with disabilities and medical conditions in the Tip of the Week segment, as well as a touching thank-you letter written by the grateful parent of a child with multiple disabilities who received kindness and consideration from the flight crew during their recent Southwest Air flight.
Tip of the Week:
One of the most stressful aspects of modern air travel is the security screening process. This is especially true for travelers with disabilities and certain medical conditions. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s official website offers a wealth of information for travelers who wish to prepare themselves for the security screening process.
Travelers with disabilities and medical conditions can call TSA Cares, a toll free help line (1-855-787-2227) with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. The TSA recommends that passengers call the help line at least 72 hours prior to travel.
Travelers may also request a Passenger Support Specialist ahead of time by calling the TSA Cares hotline. Passenger Support Specialists receive specialized disability training provided by TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, Ombudsman and Traveler Engagement. Training for Passenger Support Specialists include how to assist with individuals with special needs, how to communicate with passengers by listening and explaining, and disability etiquette and disability civil rights.
The TSA website offers specific information for travelers who:
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Many thanks to one of our listeners for sharing (with permission) a heartfelt thank-you to Southwest Airlines, written by the parent of a child with multiple special needs:
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Thank you Southwest Airlines
S. and I want to say thank you to Southwest Airlines, and specifically, the pilots and crew of 12/27’s flight 2748 from Las Vegas to Portland. They went above and beyond last night to help (our son) and us get home after a long, rough day.
By the time we boarded our last flight of the day, (our son) was tired and raw. We’d been traveling for 12 hours. During our three hour layover in Las Vegas, (our son) was over stimulated by all of the slot machines on the concourse, and he was stressed because he couldn’t understand that kids weren’t allowed to play those video games.
The minute we took our seats on the plane, (our son) started to escalate. He didn’t want to be on the plane. He definitely, didn’t want to have to stay in a seat belt.
I won’t say he was yelling at the top of his lungs. But if you’ve never heard how loud that is, you can be forgiven for thinking he was. He alternated between saying that he didn’t want to be on the plane or in the seat belt and yelling “I want milk!” (The first time he’s ever fixated on that.)
We boarded early and his tantrum continued well after everyone was seated. His yelling could clearly be heard throughout the plane. After about 5 minutes, one of the flight attendants came by to see if there was anything we needed. We asked for milk. Unfortunately, she said, they didn’t carry any milk on the plane. But she came back a couple minutes later with some water.
A couple of times, she came by and just quietly kneeled next to our seats. The way she handled it was perfect. She was clearly present and attentive but gave us the space we needed to work with (our son). At one point she asked, “Is he special needs.” I nodded, “Yes.” And she walked off to talk with the crew.
A few minutes later, I had started to think about everything that would be involved in removing (our son) from the plane, physically carrying him past all of the slot machines in the concourse and getting a hotel for the night.
I saw one of the pilots coming out of the cockpit and walking towards us and thought that we would certainly be asked to get off the plane and try again tomorrow.
Much to my surprise, the pilot stopped at the row in front of us and talked to a man just in front of (our son’s) seat.
The man must have complained to the flight attendants a few times. Because when the pilot approached him, the man said, “This situation is intolerable.”
The man must have asked to have us removed from the plane, because the pilot said, “That child is going to Portland tonight.
The man repeated, “This situation is intolerable.”
The pilot said, “Have some compassion.” To which the man replied, “I have compassion, but this is intolerable.”
The pilot simply looked at him and said quite firmly, “That child is going to Portland tonight.” His message was quite clear.
For three hours, we had been trying to keep (our son) on this side of a complete “stripping his clothes off meltdown”. By that point we were harboring our own doubts about whether we were going to make it. The pilot’s message simultaneously quieted the man and gave S. and me the support and strength we needed to keep working with (our son) so we could get our family home.
A few minutes later, just as (our son) had started to calm, our flight attendant returned and handed us a pint of milk. “The captain went up and got this for you,” she said.
I don’t think (our son) knew where the milk came from. He seemed as surprised by its appearance as we were. The milk was just the distraction we needed to convince (our son) to take his meds. And the milk calmed him as much as the meds. Before too long he was stretched out between us with his seat belt on, watching a video. And a few minutes after that we pushed back from the gate.
Once he was calm, he did a fantastic job throughout the flight. He was a model passenger, We made it to Portland, and made it home with only a minor detour as (our son) decided he needed go shopping in the PDX airport. (He couldn’t understand why dad wouldn’t buy him that suitcase at Brookestone. It was green and it was “perfect”.)
So thanks Southwest. Thanks for sticking by (our son). Thanks for giving us the time, and space and support to work with him and settle him down. And thanks for the milk.
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See? There really are some good people left in the world!
Thanks for sharing that letter, it was just what we needed to hear!
And thanks for listening,