With the evolution of the internet, information is just a few keystrokes away. On the downside, some of that information is a far cry from accurate. Just because someone types it, doesn’t mean it’s true. With that in mind, here are a few accessible travel myths (along with the correct facts) recently found on-line.
- Myth: You will get upgraded to first class if you have a disability.
Fact: Although coach seats may not have enough room for many wheelchair-users, upgrades are few and far between these days. It never hurts to ask for an upgrade, but don’t expect one unless you are a top tier frequent flyer. Occasionally wheelchair-users get upgraded, but it’s far from the norm.
- Myth: Wheelchair-users are guaranteed bulkhead seating on airplanes.
Fact: Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), people with a fused leg and those who travel with a service animal are the only passengers guaranteed bulkhead seating. On the other hand, some air carriers voluntarily block bulkhead seats for wheelchair-users; so check around and then deal with the air carriers that can best meet your seating needs.
- Myth: Theme parks let wheelchair-users go to the front of the line so they don’t have to wait.
Fact: In some cases, disabled guests are allowed to access certain attractions through the exits, because they are just more accessible. The newer rides and attractions are being built with accessible entrances, so this alternative access is being phased out. This accommodation was never meant as a line-cutting privilege, as everyone has to wait at theme parks. The goal is to have all guests access the attractions through one integrated (and accessible) entrance.
- Myth: All accessible guest rooms have roll-in showers.
Fact: In the US, only those hotels with over 50 rooms are required to have accessible guest rooms with roll-in showers. Those with under 50 rooms are only required to have tub/shower combinations with grab bars. Legally, both room configurations are considered accessible, so if you need a roll-in shower don’t just ask for an accessible guest room
- Myth: Under the ADA, car rental companies must also rent lift-equipped vans.
Fact: Car rental companies are not required to provide ramped or lift-equipped vans. They are however required to install hand controls on vehicles, given 48-hours notice. If you require a lift-equipped van, you need to deal with a specialty rental firm.
- Myth: All hotels have to own shuttles that are wheelchair-accessible.
Fact: If a hotel provides free airport transfers, they must also provide accessible transfers at no charge. They don’t have to own their own accessible shuttle though. They can contract out the service, but they cannot charge extra for it.
- Myth: Cruise lines provide manual wheelchairs for passengers who cannot walk.
Fact: These wheelchairs are used for embarkation and disembarkation, and are not for the exclusive use of passengers. If you need one during the cruise or for shore excursions, you need to rent one and have it delivered to the ship, or bring your own from home.