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Special Needs Passengers at Hartsfield Airport
Air travel can be frustrating for everyone.
But imagine being in a wheelchair and being patted down every time you travel because you can't walk through the metal detector. Or being a diabetic trying not to look suspicious as you transport a bag of medically needed syringes through security. Or simply being a parent hanging on to a howling toddler and an infant while trying to fold down a stroller for the X-ray machine.
For special-needs passengers, flying can be close to a nightmare, especially over any holiday, when airports are packed and getting the attention of harried airline employees may be more difficult. But planning will help navigate some of the obstacles.
You should know that the airline is responsible for helping passengers with special needs. An airline can:
• Set you up with a wheelchair and skycap if you can't walk long distances or carry heavy objects.
• Have a skycap meet you and help transport your luggage.
• Operate electric carts on the concourses to help move you to your gate.
• Issue a special gate pass to let a personal assistant or attendant through security if the ticketed passenger is disabled or a minor.
You must tell your reservations agent that you have a “disability” or a “special need”. A lot of people don't or won’t use that word. People in reservations have been trained and they are very sensitive to those words. Don't beat around the bush. Also have them read the record back to you so it's exactly how you want it and you know they completely understand your requirements.
Make sure that you request your wheelchair or meet-and-assist service in advance. If you don't reserve a wheelchair in advance, you may have to wait to get one located at your destination.
You may also have to wait during peak times, so when possible, fly on slower travel days. Monday afternoons through Thursday mornings are the slowest, and Saturdays can be good, too.
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