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Flying To Mayo In Feburary


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i was wondering how many of you have flown on a plane going to mayo or any other pots center and used a wheelchair how do they get you through the metal detectors and did you feel the same or worse when you got off the plane.

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Ken

I can't comment on the wheelchair or on flying in the US, but I CAN tell you that flying can really aggravate dysautonomia. I'm fine in the air, but on landing I tend to get overwhelming fatigue and nausea that stays with me for at least 24 hours. I think that others have posted some good tips previously re flying - it might help to search the Forum for previous posts.

Good luck with your appointment and best wishes.

Dianne

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Ken wheelchairs are no problem but do make sure you tell them in advance that you have needs- airline and airport.

The only feasible way for me to fly is with supplemental oxygen. I take this option on all my flights over 1 hour in duration. The airline provides it and sets it up. I was horrified to discover that it's at least $100 per leg of the flight in America- here it's free.

The other crucial thing is fluid in take. You MUST drink as much as you can. Youcan get dehydrated in the cabin otherwise which is what will aggravate the dysautonomia.

If you drink as much as you can, make use of the supplemental oxygen, and think positively, you should get away without too many ill effects.

So, to recap:

1) tell the airline about wheelchair access

2) get oxyen

3) drink as much as you can

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Not POTS related - but I have had to use the wheelchair services of the airlines many many times due to severe arthritis. I have also for years had to go through security in a special manner - either due to severe mobility limitations or simply because I had joint replacements that set off alarms.

It's good to seek out your best fare - Hotwire, Expedia, Southwest or Allegiant Air often have amazingly good deals. When I went to Mayo - I bought a one way ticket as I had no idea how long they would keep me. This worked out well - as the spacing of my tests and the weekend in there - had me there a total of 2 1/2 weeks. When it seemed I had my final day at Mayo wrapping up - I made the one way ticket purchase home.

Even when you purchase the ticket online from other than the airline directly there is a spot to put down your needs as in a wheelchair (I'm not informed about oxygen though as I never used it). To be doubly sure - you then call the airline you have your travel with and make sure that they note you need a wheelchair. They will ask sometimes depending on the airport if you can ascend or descend stairs. This would be in airports servicing cities using small little planes where you walk onto the tarmack and go up to the plane by stairs.

When you also make known your seat preference online or over the phone - as soon as you check in at the airport - check in with a real live person and tell them that you have special needs and require a wheelchair and would like seating up front close to the exit. An hour before boarding often they will bump you up to a more comfortable seat close to the main exit instead of way in the back of the plane when you ask.

Also once on the plane - you will on some airlines give the flight attendant a slip of paper that notifies them of the wheelchair need at your arrival town. Some but not all airlines have this slip of paper. Even so - tell the flight attendant as you are seated on your flight that when you arrive you will need a wheelchair.

It seems redundant to keep telling them this when it's already in the computer - but I can't tell you how many times I've been told to check and double check to make sure it's waiting for me.

When it's time to leave the plane - sometimes the wheelchairs are not greeting you and sometimes they are. Simply let them know it's a "must-have" and ask them where you should wait for it's arrival. Sometimes you'll wait on the plane till it comes - other times when I could walk short distances I'd walk up the tunnel to the airport doors and wait in a chair till it came. In some instances if I had a tight connection I'd tell the airline staff at the desk that I need that 'cart' or shuttle that whizzes around to get people to their gate. The wheelchair rides to different connections can be short (as in right next door so you barely need it if the gate is close) or long as when the connection is in an entirely different terminal and on another floor.

They will take you to baggage claim and help you wait for your rental car shuttle or anything else you need most often. I keep a fist full of single dollar bills so that I can tip the transporters accordingly - it's not mandatory at all - but it is a service provided by the airport and if I have them lugging me and my stuff from here to timbuktu to get me to my plane on time - I do pay them a gratuity.

Hydration (you may bring items on the plane once past security) is important ~ diversions such as snacks or light reading or an ipod with music, credit cards and cash both for purchasing snacks or headsets - some airlines now only accept credit cards for food and drinks - where before it used to be only cash. I bring both. If you have a laptop you enjoy - some airlines have in-flight internet. I used it on a "freebie" special once and it was great - most of the time though you have to pay to use the internet if the plane offers it.

Neck pillow if you need it - favorite snackie things or magazine -- bring it all in a portion of a carry on and you will be ready for anything. Allow the flight attendants to assisst you -- it's not only their career - but it's something that most of them enjoy. The ability to help someone is rewarding. Ushering in the masses can get routine....so do tell them your needs and ask any questions you need answered. A seat up front close to the attendant might be ideal - you could ask for it when you first arrive to check in -- and again at the desk at the gate.

Enjoy your travel as best you can - and good luck at Mayo!

Oh and security is pretty tight now - I have had the privelege of being wheeled from the first check in place at the airport where they scurried to get a chair - to being rolled up to first in line for the security check when in a lot of pain - I'll never forget that kindness. So if you cannot wait in lines and need the security clearance -- walk or have someone wheel you to an FAA attendant and explain the situation - you should be cared for accordingly. This is totally manageable ~ keep a relaxed open mind - people are there to assisst you - but it's almost never as you imagine! Even so you should do fine with a positive attitude and your creature comforts at hand.

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I don't have many problems flying, I just make sure to keep myself hydrated and get up to stretch my legs once or twice during the flight. You can contact the airlines and arrange a wheelchair to meet you at the gate, and they're pretty good about it. You may need to wait a little, and you're the last one off the plane, usually. Eat some salty snack while on the flight, and I think you'll be okay. Most likely you'll just be really tired when you get there. Plan to go one day early to rest before your appointments, and if you can afford it, stay at a hotel connected to the main clinic...it's worth it! I hope you have someone traveling with you?

Also, you'll be taken to the side at airport security and 'patted down' instead of going through the electronic device. It's really not a big deal. You do still have to put all of your belongings through the security scanner like usual.

Good luck!

j

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