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Thread: heading across the country... could use some tips ;)

  1. #1

    heading across the country... could use some tips ;)

    so... the week of Apr.6 I'm heading out to Arizona to visit the Neuro Institute. I was initially considering making a road trip out of it to avoid all the hassle of the airlines, etc these days, but it's 2200 miles one way & I'm feeling it may be easier to just fly... obviously.

    depart from: Richmond or Dulles
    destination: Phoenix, then drive to Tempe

    key details: I'm c6/7; I'll take my manual chair. I need to take my shower chair if at all possible (can be somewhat broken down, but still cumbersome). I'll need some sort of accessible transportation on the destination end. Hotels, accomodations, etc I can take care of. It's just dealing w/ the transportation means that'll be the trick.

    I know I could probably dig up most of this by searching, but I figure I'll ask anyway:

    - what's the best airline to deal with? I want a direct flight.

    - suggestions for seats: first class (rather not pay for) / business class / coach?

    - cushion: I'll take a J2 deep. Is this too big to fly with in the cabin? I'm 5'11" & I'd think it'd sit me up high, but then again I'd like to be mindful of my skin on a cross-country flight.

    - re: renting a van, would I go through Hertz, Avis, etc... or a more 'specialized' company?

    thanks
    ~ scott

  2. #2
    scott,

    i have had great luck with United Airlines. The have extra leg room in coach and they usually seat me right in the first row of coach class (I am a t-12). The first couple of rows of coach have the moveable armrest which is easier for transferring.

    Once in AZ check out www.wheelchairgetaways.com they rent Dodge/Chrysler Vans.

    When you land in Phoenix, you are almost in Tempe (it is a very close suburb) and it is easy to get around in Phoenix. (I am a Arizona State Alum)

    Have a blast and enjoy the warm weather.

    C

  3. #3
    Can you mail that shower chair? Or rent one there? That's going to be your biggest hassle. If all you have when you get there could be your manual chair and luggage, an ordinary taxi is probably do-able. Try real hard to "gate check" your chair. That's where they wheel you right up to the door of the plane, transfer you into that aisle chair, then stash your chair in the closet on the plane (to the right when you go in). That way your chair doesn't get trashed and it's waiting for you when you need it. They've always done this for me. Maybe your hotel can pick you up in a van? (Depends on the $$$) Or can the rental place have the accessible van at the airport, and a skycap load up your stuff, even the shower chair? Maybe the Neuro Institute will have ideas? Good luck, have fun, work hard! Betheny Oh, yeah-dress nicely. Sometimes they take pity and bump you up to 1st class if you're presentable. Gotta love that.

  4. #4
    thanks Bethany & 'C' --

    I'm not worried about gate checking my chair; I've done that before (just not in a few years). Bethany - do you have a rigid or folding chair? I can't see mine (A4, rigid back, x-cores) just easily getting stashed in an on-board closet.

    re: the shower chair, I just figured I could check it w/ other luggage... take the arms & back off. Thing is, I have back pain / problems & I had Activaid custom-create the back of that chair for extra support. Ideally I should get it out there with me.

    re: transportation out there, I want to rent something. This is only a visit and we're going to be out & about in town most of the time. Yeah, a hotel could pick me up, but I'm not intending to just chill at a hotel for a few days. I'm thinking a van b/c I'm going w/ my mom & car transfers aren't the easiest for me, primarily b/c of my back. If I'm in & out of a vehicle all day, I want it to be easy.

    good ideas though! sux, I'll give those guys a call. thanks...

    rephrased question: anyone had good experiences with airlines (obviously, yes)... ok, which ones?

    thanks again!

  5. #5
    My daughter and I flew from Detroit to Denver on Northwest Airlines. They were great...VERY helpful getting us on and off the plane, and they bumped us up to first class without us looking too pathetic! The extra room is really worth it. They put her in an aisle chair and put her wheelchair in with the luggage. It worked fine; they had it all ready for us by the time we got off.

    Have a great time!
    Vicky

  6. #6
    Scott-You're right, I have a folding chair. I forget about the rigids. American Airlines has been really good for me. Betheny

  7. #7
    thanks everyone - i booked a nonstop flight w/ America West for the 6th through the 10th. a few more details to figure out & all is well

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    I'd also suggest renting through Wheelchair Getaways. I'll be using them when we hit San Juan on our cruise that begins the 7th. They will normally meet you right at the terminal to hand over the van too so no wheeling allover the airport lots trying to find your van.

    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Betheny:

    Try real hard to "gate check" your chair. That's where they wheel you right up to the door of the plane, transfer you into that aisle chair, then stash your chair in the closet on the plane (to the right when you go in). That way your chair doesn't get trashed and it's waiting for you when you need it. They've always done this for me.
    Just a slight clarification. "Gate-checking" means the chair will be stowed with other checked luggage after you have boarded. Requesting that your chair be placed in the onboard closet is not considered gate-checking. And most likely, a rigid manual chair will not fit in the onboard closet.

  10. #10
    Whoops, my bad. Thanks, Clipper. They always say they're gate checking it; I guess they've always changed their minds and stashed it instead.

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