How to travel with a handicapped person

Planning a trouble-free trip

Book your trip early. Travel direct, at off-peak hours. Advise transportation companies and hotels of your needs; ask what their facilities and limitations are. If your companion is in a wheelchair, find out, for example, the width of a hotel room’s entrance and bathroom doors, and whether there are grab bars in the bathroom and access ramps where needed.

Air travel

Airline procedures for handling the disabled vary. When making reservations, ask about restrictions on motorized wheelchairs and about boarding and deplaning procedures. Tell the airline agent whether the disabled passenger can stand or walk at all and whether he’ll be traveling with his own wheelchair or will need an airline wheelchair. A few days before departure, call the airline to check that the information in its computer is correct.

Almost all airlines preboard disabled passengers. so arrive early. Major U.S. airports have lavatories that are accessible to wheelchairs; most planes don’t. If the passenger can’t walk at all, he may have to limit liquid intake before and during the trip; consult a doctor about this.

Train or bus travel

Wheelchair accessibility in Amtrak trains and stations varies. Find out what services are offered at your departu re and arrival points; book early.

If your disabled companion can’t walk at all, you’ll have to carry him on and off a bus. Let the bus company know your situation when you book; arrive 30 minutes early.

Ask about special fares for the disabled on Trailways, Greyhound, and Amtrak (a doctor’s letter may be needed to qualify). These and most airline companies permit guide dogs to accompany their owners free; check quarantine rules when going abroad