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Old 04-05-2006, 09:24 AM   #1
Cindy
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I am new here but I had a question for all of you travel experts..
I have rhuematoid arthritis and we are flying to Maui the end of the month for our 30th wedding anniversary..
We fly quite a bit because we have a vacation home in Bradenton, FL but that is only a little over a 2 hour flight..
Most people that would look at me would never know that I have RA but I have had 8 surgeries in the last 5 years and have torn lots of tendons besides..
Needless to say travel can be hard!!
My knees and ankles are usually what bother me the most with hip and neck coming in at a close second place when sitting for long periods of time..
It can get so uncomfortable even on those short flights!!
I do plan to take my pain meds to help the discomfort but do any of you have any other suggestions??
We are really looking forward to this trip but I know that I will be so stiff and achey that by the time we arrive I will have a hard time moving at all..
Upgrading is not an option, we are flying on gifted FF miles and can't even buy them..
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated..
Thanks, Cindy
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:39 AM   #2
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About the best thing you can do is find the right seat assignment. A bulkhead would be preferred for ease of stretching your legs and ability to get up and down for frequent breaks from your seat. Also, look into a neck support pillow and alternate having your feet planted on the floor with having them more elevated atop your carryon placed in front of your seat.

Another good choice would be an aisle seat near the rear of the aircraft if you are on a widebody. That would give you easy access to open areas (out of the way of the FAs) near the exits opposite the galley where you can stand and move about more freely.

I don't suffer any medical difficulties but I've stood back there halfway to Hawaii and back more than once. I know the airline wants you buckled in your seat as much as possible but the more you move the better you will feel.
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:40 AM   #3
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Here are a couple of ideas for you:

Fly United. They have Economy Plus seating that offers greater leg room in the front of the coach cabin--it is a reasonable cost.

Secondly, be SURE that your travel agent notes your disability in the PNR (Passenger Name Record) so the airline will be advised well in advance.

Do not do any e-check ins or curbside check ins. Check in at the counter and be polite and nice to the ticket agent and explain your situation--perhaps backed up with a note from the doctor--and you might very well score an upgrade gratis if the space is available.

If you strike out there, re-check in at the gate podium and see if THAT gate agent will do anything for you.

If that does not work, introduce yourself to the FA on board and he or she may be able to do something for you.

Please do not be rude or demanding--they don't need it and will probably sit you middle seat near the galley. Sugar gets a lot more from the airline employees these days.

If nothing else works, make sure to get an aisle seat so you can stretch your legs out a bit. If your right leg is worse you want to be on the left, and so forth.

Also, you can check out www.seatguru.com to see if there are any particularly "better" seats on your particular aircraft.
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Old 04-05-2006, 10:55 AM   #4
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Thanks for your suggestions..
I already have my flight booked but I did call the airline to request bulkhead seating..
I am hoping that it is available, I should know soon, they are suppose to call me back..
Thanks again, Cindy
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Old 04-05-2006, 03:54 PM   #5
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I did get the call and took the bulkhead seats..Thanks again for your help!!
I wouldn't normally take them but on these long flights I have no doubt I would have to pay (with pain) later and it could cause a delay of the fun we could have..
I am hoping that with these seats I won't have to take large doses of steroids now..
Cross your fingers for a great trip!!
Thanks to all that replied..Cindy
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Old 04-05-2006, 04:58 PM   #6
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Hi,

Welcome to Tripso. I have suffered from osteoarthritis for 40 years, since I was 18. I know something about what you're going through, although I doubt my problems are nearly as severe as yours. The Arthritis Foundation has some excellent suggestions about flying in the article Stress Free Flying on their web site, but first, here are some of my suggestions.

You have already helped yourself by taking some really good advice in getting bulkhead seats which should give you some extra legroom. I fly first class whenever possible, but sometimes I can't get the upgrade and then I always take the bulkhead or exit row seats. I fly a great deal and normally have no trouble getting those seats.

Here are some other things I do.

1. I try to travel as light as possible, but sometimes I just can't, so I have invested in quality luggage with excellent wheels (roller blade type) so they're easy to pull. If you don't have this kind of luggage maybe you can borrow it from friends, and certainly don't hesitate to use carts at the airport or ask for help. Some airports still have skycaps, but don't count on it, and you'll be safer.

2. Make sure you take your medication and your essentials with you in your carry-on. Keep your medications in original containers in case they go through your carry-on. It will avoid a big time hassle which you certainly don't need. You might need it while waiting for your flight or in the plane, plus if it's essential don't put it into your checked-on luggage which could be delayed. I always put a change of clothes in my carry-on as well.

3. Dress in comfortable clothes and don't forget a light weight jacket in case the plane gets colder than you like and makes you uncomfortable.

4. Count on waiting in the airport, so have what you need to make yourself comfortable. Make sure you bring your cane if you use one and not pack it.

5. Rather than walk the long distances in the airport, arrange with your airline to have a wheel chair ready for you or take advantage of the airport's willingness to drive you to the gate in their motorized cart. If you want the wheel chair you'll have to arrange for it at least 48 hours before your flight or you will have a hard time getting it.

6. If the airline has curbside check-in, use it and get rid of your checked-in luggage as soon as possible.

7. Avoid delays at security by being sure you haven't put any banned or questionable items, such as pocketknives in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to have your photo I.D. and ticket handy for each checkpoint.

8. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of hardware in my body along my spinal column as the result of surgeries. I am always prepared to explain in case I set off the metal detectors at security which I have done. I carry a letter of explanation from my surgeon which always does the trick with security.

9. Take advantage of "Pre-Boarding" at the gate. People with problems such as yours are allowed to pre-board before the other passengers. It makes getting on the plane much easier and ensures you will have room in the overhead bin for your carry-ons right near your seat if you need something such as your medication during the flight. Make sure you alert the agent at the gate, when you arrive there, you will need preboarding with your wife and explain why. I'm sure the gate agent will be helpful.

10. During the flight, make sure you get up and move around to keep your joints as free as possible. When you board the plane, gently alert the flight attendants of your problem and that from time to time you will need to move around in the cabin to keep from completely stiffening up during the flight. Ask them if that will be OK. Normally flight attendants prefer to keep economy passengers from moving around except to go to the bathroom, but they will understand once you speak with them. The bulkhead row will give you some room to stretch while standing right in front of your seat.

I hope these ideas might help. If I think of more I will post them later. Just don't hesitate to take advantage of the assistance the airports and airlines will be happy to give you if you ask them.

Good luck and enjoy your anniversary. My wife and I are heading for our 35th at the beginning of next year.
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Old 04-05-2006, 07:57 PM   #7
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Thanks Ned for all of the good advice and the welcome!!
My husband and I do travel quite a bit but I try to not be a pain so this is the 1st time I am asking for assistance..Mostly because I know how uncomfortable I get on those short flights so this longer one actually scares me a little..
The disability specialist was really nice and has ordered a wheelchair for me at all gates..
I had no idea that they wouldn't require proof of a disability, although, I always have it with me anyway..I also have my permenant disability placard and paperwork that I take everywhere I go..
Heres a question for you....I have to inject my meds and I usually do that before and after so I don't have to mess with it on flights but if I have delays on this longer flight I am guessing that it is ok to inject in the restroom on the plane??
I never have had a problem getting my meds or syringes thru security..
Oh, if you have bad knees like me, heres a tip...I carry a small travel pillow and I put it under my leg to help relieve the pressure, this is also good for bad elbows on the armrests..
I will take your advice on talking to the flight attendants about moving around some..I don't know about you but if I sit that long when I get up I am liable to fall on my face!! lol
My feet are also bad and I just had a cast removed for a stress fracture in my foot..
Lovely what these diseases can do to an otherwise perfectly healthy person!!
Everyone here has been so helpful, I thank all of you for that!!
Wishing you all great trips...Cindy
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:25 PM   #8
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Hi,

I'm going to intersperse my comments in between quoting you.

"Thanks Ned for all of the good advice and the welcome!!
My husband and I do travel quite a bit but I try to not be a pain so this is the 1st time I am asking for assistance..Mostly because I know how uncomfortable I get on those short flights so this longer one actually scares me a little.."


I travel around 50,000 miles per year. Pamper yourself. The trip will be better for your husband that way too. Don't you deserve it? There's absolutely no reason at all not to ask for assistance. It's all in how you ask for it, what kind of cooperation you're going to get.

I get very uncomfortable on flights longer than 2.5 hours and need to get up, walk around, stretch, etc. That's why I generally fly first class. If I'm not on US Air where I always get to board with the first group, whether or not I'm in first class, and I'm having a tough day, I pre-board. If I'm going to do that I always talk to the gate agent early on. They always understand.

"The disability specialist was really nice and has ordered a wheelchair for me at all gates.. I had no idea that they wouldn't require proof of a disability, although, I always have it with me anyway..I also have my permenant disability placard and paperwork that I take everywhere I go.."

I always carry my proof of disability from the surgeon and hospital and have it from Pennsylvania as well. I need it more for getting through security. Happily it's been about 4 years since I've needed a wheel chair.

"Heres a question for you....I have to inject my meds and I usually do that before and after so I don't have to mess with it on flights but if I have delays on this longer flight I am guessing that it is ok to inject in the restroom on the plane??
I never have had a problem getting my meds or syringes thru security.."


If TSA is following their rules you shouldn't have any problem with your medications and syringes. According to TSA's rules on Medication which you can find at TSA Medication Rules "All medications in any form or type (for instance, pills, injectables, or homeopathic) and associated supplies (syringes, Sharps disposal container, pre-loaded syringes and dispensing products, vials, box of individual vials, biojectors, CO² migraine inhalers, CO² refills, jet injectors, epipens, Atropens, infusers, etc.) are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened. Medications should be labeled so they are identifiable." I know of no rules that would prohibit you from injecting yourself with medication in the lavatory. If it were me I wouldn't even tell anyone what you're doing when you go to the lavatory to do it. I carry two syringes preloaded with epinephrine at all times due to some serious allergy problems and have never had a problem bringing them in my carry-on.

"Oh, if you have bad knees like me, heres a tip...I carry a small travel pillow and I put it under my leg to help relieve the pressure, this is also good for bad elbows on the armrests.."

I carry an inflatable pillow just in case, for this purpose, thanks.

"I will take your advice on talking to the flight attendants about moving around some..I don't know about you but if I sit that long when I get up I am liable to fall on my face!! lol
My feet are also bad and I just had a cast removed for a stress fracture in my foot..
Lovely what these diseases can do to an otherwise perfectly healthy person!!"


When I get up after sitting for a long time, I won't have any problems falling, but it will hurt. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, it will be all in the way you speak with them. Remember they might be having a bad day too and may still be carrying around the problems from their previous flight. As John said earlier, sugar rather than vinegar.

"Everyone here has been so helpful, I thank all of you for that!!
Wishing you all great trips...Cindy"


Thanks.
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Old 04-07-2006, 06:06 PM   #9
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OK this is probably a really stupid question but I looked and couldn't find an answer anywhere as to what the priority of bulkhead is..
This question could also help others that might not know the answer and have mobility probs..
I have read alot that the elite passengers get the bulkhead quite a bit, is it possible that I could get booted out of these seats even with my disability if an elite passenger requests them??
And if for any reason they do give my seats away before boarding will I be stuck in whatever is left??
This flight is VERY full and I guess I am over reacting a bit but some of you know how hard it can be with RA and sitting in cramped spaces..
Thanks again
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Old 04-07-2006, 07:10 PM   #10
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Typically once a seat is assigned, they will not move you. They do hold exit row and bulkhead seats for airport assignment usually to accomodate people with needs and their elite people.

I recommend getting there a minimum of 90 minutes prior. If they are available...walk with me here...they will give them to you. Most of the elite people are not known for arriving early so there is a good chance.

Again, if by chance you are relegated to Seat 43B quietly ask the FA if anything can be done and explain the situation and he or she will likely accomodate you either in FC if available or in a preferred seat by asking someone else to change with you.

Let me call Wysong and see if he can chime in here as he is a working FA---hey he might even be on your flight and we can get this taken care of right now!
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