Using Special Assistance At The Airport
Walking through an airport is the only way to be somewhere and nowhere at the same time.” – Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Airports are not the easiest places to navigate through, you have the lines. the crowds, going through security, taking off and putting back on shoes, belts and jackets and the long hike to your designated gate. (I’m tired just thinking about it!)
But what if you’re someone with a disability, you have some type of reduced mobility, or what if you simply need assistance? Fortunately, in the United States, all airlines offer assistance for those who may need it.
Getting the help you need….
When booking your travel, your travel agent is on your team! Simply let them know what your needs are and they will make sure it’s all arranged for you.
When you arrange for your assistance, be specific about what you need…
- Do you need assistance onto the plane?
- Do you need assistance between flights?
- What help will you need going through security?
- Do you need help checking your bags?
- Do you have a hearing or vision disability?
- Do you need to bring a service animal?
- Do you need special seating?
Airport Assistance Tips…
- Don’t wait until the last minute to arrange for help at the airport.
- For many people, just walking to the gate is more than they can handle. Have a wheelchair ordered, don’t feel silly, just relax and enjoy the ride!
- It may take a little time to find an attendant, get a wheelchair, or get through security, so be sure you arrive at the airport early enough to get everything in place so you get to your gate on time.
- It’s fine to bring your own wheelchair, but if you do, plan on being at the airport an extra hour earlier. Your chair will need to be stowed during your flight. Also, because your own personal chair will be too large to take you on the plane, let the airport staff know if you will need help getting on and off the plane and going down the aisle.
- Once onboard your flight, if you find that for reason you may need assistance, but hadn’t ordered it, simply notify the flight attendants who will be happy to see that your needs are met.
- If you’re having trouble stowing your carry-on bags or are having trouble with anything else, once again, let the flight attendants know, so they can help you.
Should you tip for assistance?
Certainly! If you have ordered assistance, come to the airport prepared with $1 or $5 bills…although, like other situations when you should tip for service, it isn’t mandatory…it’s an unspoken rule of gratitude. These are people who have helped you with various things to insure your comfort and safety.
These agents who offer their assistance often receive a lower salary than most, because it is assumed they will receive tips. It’s commonly called a tip-wage position, so it’s legal for their employer to pay them less than minimum wage. So, never assume they are being adequately compensated for their work. Be prepared to offer between $3 and $5, depending on how they helped you.