Flying with Disabilities: Delta Offers Travel Tips

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Millions of people fly each year and many of those travelers have unique travel circumstances.

With that in mind, Delta has just released a detailed guide of the various accommodations and features available when traveling with the airline that are designed to assist those with disabilities.

For instance, those who travel with assistive devices may use Delta’s wheelchair equipment for getting around within an airport. These travelers can check their wheelchair at the ticket counter during check-in or the gate prior to boarding.

Customers are also encouraged to fill out the Wheelchair Handling Form, provided on delta.com, which outlines how to best handle specific assistive devices.

The form can be placed on a customer’s wheelchair or battery-operated scooter in case the customer is not present at the time the device is transferred to the airport operations team for aircraft loading, said Delta.

In the event of damage to such a device, it’s best for customers to notify Delta immediately, before leaving the airport. Doing so allows the airline to begin the resolution process as soon as possible.

Woman in wheelchair at airport

Here are some additional tips from the airline about wheelchair handling during travel:

—Print the wheelchair handling form and put it in a plastic sleeve, or better yet laminate it to preserve it for continued use.

—It’s also a good idea to secure the form on the wheelchair seat or perhaps the back of the chair

—Talk with gate staff about how to place the chair in neutral, releasee/apply brakes and pick up the device

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For those traveling with sensory sensitivities meanwhile, many airports now offer multi-sensory or calming rooms for travelers.

Miami International Airport, for instance, opened a multi-sensory room for kids with autism and other special needs just this April, during Autism Awareness Month.

As CBS News reported, the room is specifically designed to be a quiet area for young passengers who may have cognitive or developmental disabilities such as autism, offering a place to relax and decompress during the travel experience.

Delta, in partnership with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and autism advocacy group Autism Speaks, created a similar room at Atlanta Airport’s multisensory room on F Concourse. Like Miami, the room provides a calming, supportive environment for customers on the autism spectrum. The space contains a mini ball pit, bubbling water sculpture, a tactile activity panel and other items children can interact with to help calm and prepare them for their travel experience.

Similar calming rooms are also available at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport; Myrtle Beach International Airport; London Heathrow Airport and Shannon Airport.

For travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing, Delta says its Fly Delta app is the ideal travel companion.

Customers using desktop or laptop computers can also chat with a Delta Virtual Assistant or a live reservations specialist on delta.com to get quick answers to questions by visiting Delta’s Need Help page, said the airline.

Later this fall, customers will also be able to use Apple Business Chat messaging to chat with a virtual assistant or live reservations specialist on their iOS devices.

Meanwhile, some airports have begun offering hearing loops and visual paging systems for customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Hearing loops, or “induction loop” systems, electromagnetically transmit sound to hearing aids and cochlear implants with telecoils (T-coils). T-coils function as antennae, relaying sounds directly into the ear without background noise.

In March, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, in Florida, became one of the latest locations to set up an assistive listening system. The system is available at all of the gates at the airport and that transmits sound directly to the listener’s ear through a small receiver available in most hearing aids.

Visual paging alongside arrival and departure signage is also available at the following major airports:

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport; John F. Kennedy International Airport; Los Angeles International Airport; London Heathrow Airport; Memphis International Airport

Miami International Airport; Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport; Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; Raleigh-Durham International Airport; Greater Rochester International Airport; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport; Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and Nashville International Airport.