I’ve flown a lot by myself and with my whole family, but never alone with my special needs daughter. Just her luggage and equipment takes a small village to manage, or at least the extra support of my husband and 15 year old. So when I made plans to take her to Park City for the Holiday Family Camp I was really excited for the camp, but apprehensive about the trip to get there. Visions of trying to get her, her push chair, car seat, meds and my stuff through TSA terrified me – thinking about how I was going to get her car seat set up in her seat, our bags stowed, her seated and her push chair folded down made me break out in a cold sweat. I checked the “special services” button when booked our flight and hoped it would all work out. It did, and was so good I felt like a VIP.
After checking my bag I stopped by the special services counter for Delta and an attendant was assigned to us. She led the way to the front of the line at TSA, helped put our bags on the conveyor and gathered up our things – shoes, laptop, carry on, liquids, etc after they scanned, and while I had a pat down and my daughter was tested for bomb residue. The attendant then toted the car seat and carry on while I pushed my daughter all the way out to the satellite terminal. I was relieved and a little bit giddy. Then she left. Now, how were we going to board the plane and get everything in place? I had visions of angry passengers waiting for me while I installed her car seat – and still wasn’t sure where my daughter would be during this time, she can’t sit without support.
When the agents came to the counter at the gate, I got in line to ask some questions. The agent I spoke to put a tag on my daughter’s push chair to gate check it, offered to check my carry on for FREE, which gave me one less thing to worry about, then said she’d make sure that we boarded first and had plenty of time to get V on.
She lied. First Class boarded first, but then she called our names. When we boarded the plane I explained my challenge and the flight attendant asked what seats we were in and offered to take the car seat while I got my daughter. Another attendant came out to fold down V’s push chair and by the time we got to our seats her car seat had been installed for me. Huge sigh of relief.
Next challenge, getting off the plane, picking up our bags at baggage claim and getting everything in the rental car. Again, Delta attendant to the rescue. Might as well been Superman. He helped me get everything off the plane, and transported it all to baggage claim while I pushed my daughter. He picked up our bags at baggage claim, waited for me at the rental car counter and then loaded everything into the car for me. I don’t think I tipped him enough, now that I think about it.
I was told that all airlines have a similar service, so make sure that you check that “special services” box next time you fly with your special needs child. It will definitely make your next flight more manageable. There is no extra charge for this for travelers with special needs. See their website for more information.
If only special services could have stopped the little dog in the row in front of us from barking throughout the flight…