Before the car accident that left me disabled, I never thought about how a person in a wheelchair could fly in an airplane. There’s not a spot for a chair to sit so how do they do it? What do they do with the wheelchair? Can they even fly? If they can’t walk, how do they get into their seat? To be honest, there was a lot I didn’t know about the disabled community and how valuable independence truly is. Even having a classmate who was a paraplegic and asking questions, there was a lot I had to learn. Unfortunately, I was forced to learn after the car accident, and I had to adapt and get used to my new normal. Part of that new normal was never looking normal again. But there have been rare moments, for example at a wheelchair rugby tournament, where the wheelchair users over populated the able bodied and I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Another area I feel normal is when I travel by airplane. I never feel like a sore thumb when I fly because I sit in a normal airplane seat. Therefore, no one really knows that I am disabled. I get in the seat by transferring into an aisle chair, which is a very tiny chair, then the employees push me to my seat and then help me transfer into the airplane seat. I get early boarding, but other than that, I look and feel normal. Imagine living your life always sitting down, adjusting your life around the fact that you cannot walk. Then, you are placed in an environment where everyone must sit in the identical seat for a few hours. They only see you sitting down in a normal airplane seat, just like everyone else. It’s a feeling I never thought I would cherish.
Here are tips when traveling by air plane as a chair user (I also talk about aisle chair if you are curious):