Air India Boots Power Wheelchair-User

airplane_landing_199029Although travelers in the US are used to the protections that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) affords them in this country (and on flights to and from the US), that’s not how it works on foreign soil. In fact, I routinely get reports of wheelchair-users who were unceremoniously denied boarding at airports throughout Asia. Such is the case of Kaushik Majumdar, who recently tried to board an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata.

Notice, I said “tried”.

According to reports of the incident Majumdar was told at check-in that he would have to remove the dry-cell battery from his power wheelchair and transfer to a manual wheelchair at the gate. After he did this, he was also informed that he would have to disconnect all of the wires that ran to the battery case. Being leery about his ability to properly reconnect the wires, and concerned about possible damage to his wheelchair, he refused. And then Air India refused to accept him as a passenger.

Should this have happened? Well no it shouldn’t have, but it did. And although in the US, the ACAA prohibits the removal of non-spillable batteries that are appropriately marked and installed, that’s not the way it works with Air India.

So this is just a little heads up if you happen to have India on your bucket list. Tread lightly with Air India, as they don’t appear to be “power-wheelchair friendly”. And no matter where you travel, check with the airline to see what their policies are regarding the stowage of assistive devices before you buy your ticket. A little advance research could possible save you a whole lot of heartache – not to mention a ruined trip. In this case, forewarned is definitely forearmed!

Help Florida State Parks Beef Up Access

boardwalkLet’s face it, Florida State Parks were hit hard by Hurricane Irma. All 168 State Parks shut down when the stormed raged through the state in September; and although some parks escaped damage all together, others weren’t so lucky. Sadly, Bahia Honda, Indian Key and Long Key State Parks sustained the brunt of the damage in the Florida Keys.

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Safari West Loses Accessible Bus in Wildfire

Accessible tent cabin at Safari West will reopen in 2018.

Accessible tent cabin at Safari West will reopen in 2018.

Safari West – a favorite attraction of mine – partially reopened their facilities last month after the Tubbs Fire ravaged Sonoma county. Although much of the land surrounding this wild animal preserve was parched by the fire, the good news is that no animals at Safari West were injured or killed as a result of it. Continue reading

Looking Forward to a More Accessible Future

Work underway at The Lake House Restaurant in Grant Village

Work underway at The Lake House Restaurant in Grant Village

I’ve been writing about accessible travel for over 20 years now, and I can honestly say that I’ve see a lot of improvements since I first started. Years ago it was hard to find an accessible room at all, and now many hotels have pool lifts. Yes, I know there is always room for improvement, but I’m pleased at the direction that the hospitality industry is moving. Continue reading

Great Winter Deals at Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge

If you’re looking for a heck of a winter hotel deal, then look no further than Lake Quinault Lodge. Located just outside of Olympic National Park on the south shore of Lake Quinault, this Northwestern Washington lodge is offering rates that start at a very affordable $87, from now until April 30, 2018. Continue reading

Proposed National Park Fee Increases

archesUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely heard about the proposed peak season fee increase for 17 US National Parks. The National Park Service recently announced this increase, and cited that the additional funds are needed for repair, upkeep and improvements to the national parks. That said, it’s still a proposed increase, and if adopted it will only be effective during the peak seasons of these parks. The peak season fee at the following parks will increase to $70 under his proposal. Continue reading

Who Should Use the Disabled Loo?

restroomI have to admit that I was a little puzzled by a news item that I ran across last week about a grass roots campaign in the UK to make it “more comfortable” for people with invisible disabilities to use the accessible toilets there. Apparently when seemingly able-bodied people walk out of the accessible NKS toilets across the pond, they are getting “the look” or an audible “tsk-tsk” from passers-by. To alleviate this, there is a push to change the symbol on the accessible toilets from the standard wheelchair pictogram, to a pictogram of wheelchair with two able-bodied people. OK, that part made perfect sense to me, as there certainly are folks with invisible disabilities who need accessible facilities. Continue reading

Access Upgrades Abound in Glacier National Park

The accessible Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park

The accessible Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve probably heard about the wildfires in Glacier National Park. Yes, it is smoky here, and some days are certainly better than others, but with the wildfires near my home in the Sierras are producing quite a bit of smoke too. The firefighters are doing a good job of protecting the historic structures in the park, none of which are immediately threatened. The did lose Sperry Chalet, but that was in a remote area of the park, and quite difficult to protect. A small portion of the park is closed near Lake McDonald Lodge, mostly as a precautionary measure, and to give firefighters unfettered access should the need arise to actively fight the flames near the park’s lakeside properties. Continue reading

Hitting the Road Again

mapWell we’re off on another road trip adventure to do some research for my next book. And although this trip won’t take us as far as we usually venture, it will require an extended stay near the national parks that we will be covering – Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Continue reading