Showing posts with label Airplane Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Airplane Travel. Show all posts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Date of Visit: April 2014

Having gone to school in D.C. a semester, living in Arlington for almost a year, and Mom traveling to D.C. for work frequently, we have been to the Reagan Airport with Mik almost yearly over the past decade.  Until this trip, though, we had always flown American for our D.C. trips.  Now that we live in Huntsville we would have had to fly to Dallas to get to D.C. on American and that was much more expensive than taking the direct flight on U.S. Airways, which at least now also gets us American miles so seems a win-win.

What I did not realize until I checked in the day before the trip was they only fly little planes between Huntsville and pretty much everywhere on U.S. Airways and American (only to/from Dallas uses big planes, but even then not every flight).  Mik absolutely hates the little planes and as much as he also hates Southwest he preferred that over the American Eagle flight between Tucson and LA.  We even tried to fly through Alaska to get home from Hawaii a few years back to avoid LA and were quite annoyed that they then changed our flights to go through LA shortly before our trip.

Mik's problem is the aisle chairs do not work well on the little planes, but since they are hard to avoid living in Huntsville Mik has gotten used to having to just sit in bulkhead.  Landing at Reagan and hearing the flight attendant say a shuttle was meeting the plane put him right back at hating little planes.  It was mostly the unexpected experience of suddenly hearing about stairs and him not being able to see that a ramp was waiting to be brought up to the plane, but it was also about him hating buses.

Mom was waiting in the terminal for us having not been able to get home the day before and travel with us as usual and her reply to me telling her Mik was freaking out about a shuttle bus was something like yeah they usually do that here.  That made Mik even more annoyed because he totally could have been mentally prepared.

Despite the shuttle bus, overall the experience at Reagan Airport was actually very good.  For one, their aisle chair is the more common one than the one in Huntsville and it actually fits in the aisle.  Mik also likes that there is a companion bathroom located right inside security in each terminal (or at least the two of three we have been in and assume the other is identical since those two are).  The little corral for those needing to pre-board was slightly annoying in that it was crowded, but it did serve a good purpose in that they were very helpful in making sure those that needed help got it including informing us that our flight was moved to boarding upstairs at the actual terminal and offering to help going there.

Destination Info:

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
2401 Smith Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22202

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Huntsville International Airport

Date of Visit: April 3, 2014

This was Mik's third or fourth time flying out of Huntsville in the year and a half since we knew we were relocating here and have lived here, but it was the first time we really spent time in the terminal because we arrived hours earlier than normal since Dad had to drop us off on his way to work.  It quickly has gone from being one of our favorite airports to our least favorite.
First off, the first time we arrived in Hunstville and rode the elevator from the gate level to the security entrance/exit level we were impressed.  In fact, it is Mik's second favorite elevator with the only better one being the Warning Walls Will Move ones you go on for the accessible route to go on Indiana Jones at Disneyland.  After our experience this past week, though, the airport has annoyed him to the point he feels he cannot even call it his second favorite elevator, although he cannot name any specific elevator to replace it on the list of only two favorite elevators, so it's now in last while still actually being second.

What made our opinion of the Huntsville Airport go to the worst airport experience ever is the fact that there is not a companion bathroom in the terminal.  Now that doesn't seem like a totally horrible thing, but when we returned from our D23 Expo trip in August I know I took him to a companion restroom outside security before exiting to where Dad was waiting in the pick up area (very nice set up by the way!).  It is inconvenient that they totally have one in the airport, but it would have required going through security again, which is a bigger hassle for someone in a wheelchair than most others.  We did not have time to go through that and I went into the women's room to go myself and found that they also do not even have handicap stalls big enough to fit a wheelchair and a companion.  In fact, they seem like they may not even big enough for someone in a wheelchair that does not need a companion to help them.

Thus, as much as we love the one elevator. We now totally hate the airport.  It also does not help that the other elevator from the security level to the pick up/drop off/baggage claim level is barely big enough when two of us travel with Mik.  Additionally, the aisle chairs are not that great including not even fitting to be next to the bulkhead row in the little planes, which is mostly what at least American and US Airways fly to/from Huntsville (we mainly have flown the larger American planes to DFW, so didn't even realize the aisle chair issue until this trip to DC).  Sure, even the nicest aisle chairs do not work well on the small planes, which is why Mik hates flying them, but at least those fit in the aisle and it is the turning to get on/off that is an issue.

Bottom line is Mik was glad to not realize the airport was so bad until this trip because this trip was our first condo hunting trip to DC.  The whole little plane experience even lead to Mom joke maybe we should just rent a place now and not go home, but more on that in another post because that is more about the D.C. airport.

Destination Info:
Huntsville International Airport
1000 Glenn Hearn Blvd
Huntsville, AL 35824

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Companion Restrooms at Dallas Fort Worth Airport

It has been awhile since I have flown through Dallas Fort Worth Airport with Mik.  In Tucson, we used to always choose Chicago over Dallas because Chicago seems to have fewer weather delays/cancellations and I have often had bad luck with Dallas.  Now that we are in Huntsville, though, Dallas is the only real option unless we are actually flying to Chicago, as Mik hates the narrowness of doing the aisle chair on American Eagle so much he would probably choose flying through Dallas to Chicago just to avoid that situation.  We still ended up spending more time than planned in Dallas, but this time it was because we volunteered to fly out later and earned ourselves some vouchers, which is kind of funny because we had used vouchers to get these tickets to go to the D23 Expo in the first place.

Companion Restrooms at Dallas Fort Worth Airport

Anyways back to the point of the post, we now like Dallas a lot more because we found the companion bathrooms located by every restrooms we saw.  Mik particularly liked that they were large including having space to roll his wheelchair up next to the toilet to transfer over.

Companion Restrooms at Dallas Fort Worth Airport

There was also a ledge to put backpacks and such down without actually putting them on the ground. 

Companion Restrooms at Dallas Fort Worth Airport

The auto flushing annoyed him as usual, but he did like the sink being a sensor to turn on.  However, the sink still did not work all that well for him with the soap being far away and not with a sensor and the faucet being somewhat of a stretch and he has reasonably long arms.  Overall, though, that is minor when all that really matters is not having to decide what restroom to go into because your only companion is not the same gender as you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

First Adventure Travelling with Power Chair on Airplane

Mik got his awesome power chair that can put him in a standing position back in December 2011.  Yesterday was the first time we took it on an airplane.  We suspected it could be an adventure/misadventure, as there always seems to be a high probability of one every time we fly.

In Chicago as the boarding was finishing for our flight to DC, the gate agent came in and asked if the back can be taken off the wheelchair.  Since, we had just gate checked the manual wheelchair, I thought she was taking about it and told her there were release levers for it.  She came back a few minutes later and asked me to come show them.

I thought the manual chair was just outside the door and I would quickly help them.  Well, they then escorted me down the steps to below the plane and around to the cargo loading area.  It turned out they wanted to reduce the height of the power chair.  I do not know how they did in on the first flight, but here they were trying to not put it on its side and did not know how to make it flatter.

I have not done much playing with Mik's controls, but I knew if could lay flat since it can go laying to standing.  It took me about 5 minutes, but I figured out the recline mode and got it flat so it could go in the cargo area without being laid down.  It was then kind of funny to watch them roll it up on to the conveyor belt tilted down as they had to release the brakes to roll it up there and then of course with the brakes released it tried to roll backwards.

As usual our flight out of Chicago was delayed.  I am pretty sure it was pretty much entirely the power chair's fault, but it was nice that they cared about not putting it on its side if they could avoid it.  Now I know to lay it flat when we check it in, but I kind of liked getting the adventure of going below to see them load it.