HOW TO MAKE IT TO & FROM YOUR GATE WITH NO HASSLE
And Spend More Time With That Special Someone
Remember the good old days of flying not all that long ago when family and friends could accompany you all the way to your boarding gate? And even better, they could meet you at your gate when you got off the plane. Things were much easier back then. By the way, back then was only about 16 years ago. Not so long ago for some of us.
That fateful day in September of 2001 certainly changed everything regarding air travel. Do I feel safer? Yes I do. Do blind and mobility impaired people have a more challenging time at airports now? Yes they do.
The challenges are a small price to pay for everyone’s peace of mind as we travel in the skies and at the airports. But, believe it or not there is a way for you to still experience a taste of those days when joyful family or friends welcomed you home or saw you off.
Recently, my wife went on an adventure to a blind camp so I was a bachelor for the week while she was gone. I knew that she would be coming home with a large suitcase so I thought that I would meet her in baggage claim and help her and her friend make it home with as little fuss as possible.
I left in enough time to meet them promptly after they arrived. As I navigated the busses and trains to the airport I was monitoring her flight’s progress on Southwest Airlines’ mobile app. As it turned out, her flight was delayed. By the time I got to the airport rather than being 20 minutes early I wound up being about two hours early.
Since I now had plenty of time on my hands I got to thinking about the good old days. Remember when we didn’t have to wait for someone to show up to escort us to baggage claim? Someone from our family was right there waiting for us when we got off the plane with a smile and lots of hugs and kisses. So, in a moment of pure genius I decided to ask a Southwest supervisor some questions. As it turns out, as long as the impaired passenger indicates on their ticket reservation that they need assistance a friend or family member can be granted permission to pass through TSA security. In my wife and her friend’s case since I’d made their reservations for them I’d already covered that detail for them.
So, after making sure everything identification wise was in order, the Southwest supervisor printed up a “dummy” boarding pass for me. Off I went through security making it with no trouble into the secure side of the airport terminal. The only downside to that transition was that I wasn’t granted TSA Pre admission like normal so I had to do the shoes and pocket contents on the belt thingy. Slowed me down, but hey, at least I could surprise my girl at the gate.
As it turned out her flight was about three hours late arriving. I had plenty of time to find me one of my favorite Texas BBQ sandwiches while waiting. Once my wife and her friend got off the plane I was able to help them quickly navigate all the way to baggage claim and then out to where our Lyft driver was meeting us. Of course, knowing your airport’s layout always helps speed things along, too.
Here’s the take away. When making reservations, whether online or otherwise, always tell the airline you need assistance. If you do then you’re covered. If you don’t then just let your flight attendant know that you’ll be fine on your own. If it would be nice to have a partner or friend show up at the gate to help out then you’ve got that covered too. And by the way, this trick works both ways. A friend or family member can also accompany you to your gate before you leave as well.
See you do have time for that one more last bon voyage hug.
It’s fun to share! If you have a travel story or idea you’d like to share there’s a place for you to comment below.