MS vs. Airport Assistance

After our last holiday to Nashville, Tennessee, I had to do something about how I navigate the airport. I could not be ill on this holiday. Not like last time.
 
I had never heard of “airport assistance” until I came across it on an MS group on social media.

It sounded helpful, but all I could think about was the amount of questions I’d have to answer. I don’t know about you, but I make a conscious effort to try and forget about my disability.

The weakness, the fogginess, the neuro pain, the fatigue (oh wow that fatigue!)—to me, all that is just... normal. Requesting something like airport assistance felt like I was just putting a spotlight on the fact that I was actually not normal.
 
Turns out though the only questions I was asked was whether I could climb the planes stairs (I was shown a picture of the steps to the plane) and whether I needed a wheelchair.

I don’t know what I imagined exactly, but I thought there’d be some sort of cool little buggy they’d come and pick you up in or something. No?

No, on this occasion, I was offered a wheelchair. I think my words were, “Seriously?!”

I’d never been in a wheelchair before—I freaked out so badly.

I took note of people’s looks around me. I could imagine them saying, “oh, she looks so young, must be awful to be disabled so young,” or “she doesn’t look disabled, she doesn’t a chair.” Truthfully, I felt like a fraud.

I made every effort to hold back my tears of insecurity and hatred of myself and my disability as I was pushed through the airport.

I felt so judged. There were hundreds of people in this airport, and I felt like they were all looking straight at me.

Why did this feel like such a big deal to me? Because my “disability” is now on show for all to see. Like being naked in public. It was the only thing that had ever made my invisible illness visible. It was scary. In some ways it was like being diagnosed all over again, but this time, people saw what they didn’t see before. They saw a visual representation of MS. My MS.

I think it even shocked my husband, as even he’d not seen me like that before. I guess I cover a lot of it up.

Thing is, I didn’t know anyone in this airport. I’ll never see them again, they don’t know me, they don’t know what I’ve been through. Why do I care so much if they judged me?

There was also something else that I realized. I realized that I can’t change my physical state, but I can change my mental state. I was allowing myself to feel like this.

I began to think about the wheelchair like a lift or an escalator. A transportation system to get my body from point A to point B. Once you get passed the weird feeling of people looking at you, it feels like the ultimate VIP experience not many other people get.
 
Yeah you may get judged a little, maybe some snide remarks here and there, but do you know what? I was treated so well by the airport staff. I did not feel humiliated, ashamed or put down. They understood completely. Not one person asked me what my disability was. I didn’t have to stand in queues—like at all—I was always first on the plane and I had a helper lady that checked my tickets, personally took me through customs and to the gate I needed, and came to fetch me when I needed to board.

I’m never ever going to catch a plane again without assistance. I had the best holiday of my life and my energy lasted all 4 days.

Do you use airport assistance? How has your experience been?
Tags Healthy Living      13 Appreciate this
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Jessie

Jessie Ace

Being diagnosed at 22 at the start of her career was hard, but Jess found it in herself to turn things around and use MS as a tool to give people new help and inspiration. She has now made it her life’s mission to raise awareness and change public perception of invisible illnesses through design, blogging and public speaking. She strongly believes in empowering young people with MS helping them to achieve their dreams. Join her tribe of enabled warriors on Facebook and stop by her shop on Etsy.

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    172 Comments

  • Brenda Robbins   Aug 14, 2018 6:07 PM
    After falling on an airport people mover and dizziness just walking through the airport, I will never do it without assistance again. This is a right to those of us with disabilities.
  • Deborah   Aug 14, 2018 9:11 PM
    Jessie, I have had those same exact thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. And I have to admit that almost 20 years of having airport assistance, I still have twinges of them. It is totally a mental judgment I have because I don't want my disease to be my identity, or my focus to be on illness instead of wellness and healing. So I can tell myself a story, whether I believe it or not is a whole other issue - lol!
  • Elizabeth Cohen   Aug 14, 2018 10:05 PM
    I use a rolling walker or a scooter so if I am not taking the scooter when I travel by air, my husband wheels the walker with our carry on bags and I am taken in a wheelchair thru security and to the gate. I think it's great because you are treated as someone special--not someone who is disabled.
  • Laura   Aug 15, 2018 2:15 AM
    Inspiring read. Thank you Jessie. I also think it’s amazing that you are helping to raise awareness of MS and devote time to helping people with MS.
    I have travelled a little with MS and airports make me so anxious (which then affects my vision which then makes me even more anxious!). I had airport assistance in Bali and Singapore and the uk once when I had to get an emergency flight home after having a relapse and not having access to steroids in Indonesia. It made life so much easier and I literally couldn’t have done it without help as I was alone and had optic neuritis. You mentioned that having help thru the airport gave you the energy you needed to enjoy your holiday. I think that’s a really important point because with MS there’s long lastIng effects days after having to use valuable energy. Since were usually going on holiday for a week or two it’s important for us to look after our energy and not feel guilty for asking for help.
    I hate the fact that my disease is invisible and I worry that people think “ well she’s fine why is she having assistance”. Inside I really am not fine.
    Thank you for writing

    Laura
  • Felix   Aug 22, 2018 1:23 AM
    „Once you get passed the weird feeling of people looking at you, it feels like the ultimate VIP experience not many other people get.“

    Yeah that is something not many people can say. We are an exclusive Club, where nobody asked to be a member of. Still doesn’t matter, we will handle it with pride!
  • Monica   Aug 30, 2018 12:09 AM
    At Heathrow they now have a scheme for people with invisible disabilities to wear a specially allocated (pre posted) lanyard that highlights you without you having to request assistance and explain your whole situation to a stranger (yet again).
  • Fiona Graeme-Cook   Sep 6, 2018 10:21 AM
    Guess what Jess, you are normal - NEVER forget that! Please. Think of those others as “temporarily ablebodied” if it helps, but just being in a wheelchair does not make you abnormal, or even disabled. If you broke your ankle, or had knee surgery, most people would use whatever helped. The difference is in our heads. My brother, a pilot would call you “a wheelchair runner”, just needing to navigate airport distances
  • Chantel   Sep 6, 2018 10:26 AM
    I felt the same when I was first diagnosed with MS. I was also 22 when I learned I had it.
  • Elbert Villalobos   Sep 6, 2018 10:28 AM
    Hello. My wife was diagnosed with MS 4 years ago and we both actually work for a company called Airport Assistance Worldwide which provides airport assistance around the world. It actually has been amazing whenever we travel to have the additional help and not be judge by the person assisting her. She is also young in her early 30s and feels the exact same Insecurities: I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the experience and I try always to provide the same comfort when selling the service since I understand the struggle my wife feels. Thank you so much for sharing.
  • Greg Elmes   Sep 6, 2018 10:30 AM
    What assistance is available when the airplane has stairs and not a jetway? I can slowly manage a few stairs with a walker but usually have a caregiver lift or guide my foot.
  • Warren   Sep 6, 2018 10:31 AM
    I use to work at the Minneapolis/St.Paul international airport and if you cannot go on to the steps of a plane they have a special type of chair which 2 agents have to help people on to the plane 1 person is in front of the chair and the other person is in back of the chair and the chair is called an aisle chair they board the aisle chair first when the gate agent says people with special assistant going down the jet bridge and after the plane has arrived at the city where you are traveling to the aisle chair is last person to come off the plane
  • Samantha   Sep 6, 2018 10:40 AM
    Yes, I used airport assistance the last time, that my husband and I flew and it was a wonderful experience for my husband and myself. The airport helpers also helped transporting us throughout the airport with a wheelchair and a driven cart, that also held our luggage. Exceptional experience. Just notify the airline if you need wheelchair help and it will take a burden off both the person using the wheelchair and the companions. We were treated respect. Lots of people are willing to help, all one has to do is ask.
  • Gen   Sep 6, 2018 10:43 AM
    Please don't forget that there are many of us in the airport with friends and family who also struggle with this disease. We are grateful for the extra service the airport provides for our loved ones and we do NOT judge. Please save your energy and use the conveniences available to you so we can enjoy our time together as much as posible.
  • Tina   Sep 6, 2018 10:43 AM
    When I finally started using the wheelchair at airports, I wondered why I didn't do it earlier. So many people use this service at the airport, it is totally acceptable and makes travel much less stressful. Don't forget to tip whoever is pushing you, though. They depend on those tips.
  • Christie   Sep 6, 2018 10:44 AM
    I always use a wheelchair and airport assist, even if someone is traveling with me. In fact, I have my own wheelchair for occassions like this. The airport is so big, and standing in lines can be a long wait, that my legs and back would give out 15 minutes into the whole process. I have always had very nice attendants help me. They even bring me to get coffee before and after the flight.
    I also use the electric scooters in Walmart if I am having a bad day. They help a lot. Dont be afraid to use them. A lot of people use assistance at the airport and scooters when they need them. I have never had anyone look at me funny or make a comment. And if they do, so what. I hope they never have to use them, but I would rather use them and not have my legs get tired and weak and wind up on my butt.
  • Phil   Sep 6, 2018 10:47 AM
    I agree with the "VIP" comments. I usually use a cane but on a recent trip, I also had my wheelchair. My family pushed me through the airport but the airline staff, TSA, and the flight attendants all treated me like I was someone special. And I was surprised at how "fresh" I was after traveling for 15+ hours including changing planes, layovers, etc..
  • Jeff   Sep 6, 2018 10:48 AM
    As a person with MS, I went to see my son across the country by air and used wheelchairs at 6 airports. I usually just use a cane although the distance to walk was just too far. I agree that people seemed to do the things that you saw and in the beginning felt very uncomfortable but after the 1st airport I could see that people were truly trying to be helpful. Funny, I saw other people in wheelchairs and said to myself that they didn't need help and they were just trying to get in the plane first. How funny. I have since changed my mind on people in general and do not feel concerned anymore.
  • Dan Leinbach   Sep 6, 2018 10:48 AM
    While I fundraise for and ride in BikeMS events, and I know some who have MS, I am fortunate that none of my family don't have MS. However, I have had my eyes opened recently to some of what you speak of, Jessie, as my wife broke her knee earlier this year. It was an odd injury, caused by simply getting into a high bed. For a month, she struggled getting around while unable to straighten it, before her first surgery. I had gotten a wheelchair for her; she reacted similarly to what you describe here, effectively saying "really?"... though perhaps with a few more choice words thrown in.
    That first surgery appeared to go OK, but afterward it would not bend at all. A second surgery was required to correct that. She's now been confined to a chair at home, or a wheelchair, for about two months.
    The feelings you describe - the insecurity and feeling that people are judging - I feel them too just pushing her chair. I'm sure she feels similar emotions as well. If the chair helps her, though, then it's both right and necessary.
    She clearly misses her independence; she tried to make a solo bathroom run a few days ago. I received a text that she couldn't get up... then another that specified "from the floor". That didn't gain her anything, much like trying to push through without that airport assistance wouldn't gain someone with MS anything. Utilize the resources available, and make the best of your time and energy.
    One last, related thought: when I'm riding, I think of my strength in terms of a book of matches. When I push it, I'm burning a match. It's incumbent on me to use those matches at the right times to get done what I want. Do anything and everything that you can to conserve your matches for what matters to you.
  • Chris   Sep 6, 2018 10:58 AM
    Do you ask for assistance when you get to the airport or do you make arrangements ahead of time? If at the airport, where?
  • Beatrice   Sep 6, 2018 11:03 AM
    Not the airport assistance took me sometime to get back to the States but the fact I had to get a wheelchair to enjoy a city like New York. Having accepted that fact I return once or twice a year. Btw I travel from Switzerland to the US.
  • Diana Chesser   Sep 6, 2018 11:03 AM
    It was hard for me at first but a friend said-the airline has assistance available, use it and make the rest of your trip enjoyable. I’m glad I took his advice. It makes my stress, anxiety, pain and exhaustion away and makes life easier. I don’t care what others think or say, I care about making my life easier
  • Brad Koberinski   Sep 6, 2018 11:07 AM
    I'm going to Vegas in a few weeks. I kinda feel the same. But also don't want to be late for flights either. But I guess this is life with MS
  • Jenny Robertson   Sep 6, 2018 11:10 AM
    Yes! Airport assistance is the way to go! I’ve recently started traveling with my walker. That is a tricky one because they always make a big stink about it going thru security. I have precheck which you would help but they put me back in the regular line last time claiming they couldn’t check the walker. I did get a 75 dollar voucher for all my troubles that day, thanks American Airlines. I will say that at the end of the day, I do appreciate boarding early. People always look at me and men in particular seem to assume I have something going on with my knee. Or people think I must have had an accident. Story of my life with the walker. I don’t care though...I’m out getting around and that’s all I care about :)
  • Sally   Sep 6, 2018 11:13 AM
    You describe the feelings well. I fought off asking for help for years but now ask to pre-board to save energy. I also resisted asking for a wheelchair for help with MS slowness/fatigue/...yet did not hesitate to do so after a knee injury! Learning to avoid this incorrect self imposed double standard. I had gotten so tired of explainimg invisible disability to co-workers, friends, family. ("Such a luxury to work half day and go home to a nice nap...") Sometimes instead of details, I may point out to them that I am leaning, or otherwise propped up while no one else is. I do appreciate being still able to travel. Happy trails to all travelers!
  • Penny   Sep 6, 2018 11:16 AM
    Like you it took me by short and curly to come to terms with not being able to walk about at the airport, which have been able to do for many years. It was when my son very Kindly took me to a Twickenham 6 Nations match and pushed me in a wheel chair that drummed it home, to accept with good grace assistance when needed. We had a lovely day and first class viewing of the game, with the thunder of rugby players coming towards us as they tried to get to ball. To add to the bonus we were able o get to queue more easily for drinks and people were so kind, esp when they saw I needed a crutch to walk at all. Son also had a bonus as my assistance, as he too got first class seat viewing! It's not often I feel that way, but a very memorable day. Penny xx
  • J W   Sep 6, 2018 11:17 AM
    I was at the airport 2 days ago and had to wait for an hour at the counter. After 5 minutes, I has to sit down on the floor. They asked if I needed a wheelchair, but I always decline one at the airport. I would rather partially crawl in the TSA lines than get the wheelchair label because sometimes I need to run to make connections and cannot wait for wheelchair assistance. I'm glad airlines have it because I may need it in the future.
  • jeannie   Sep 6, 2018 11:20 AM
    Thanks for your blog! Yes, I have used the chair and will never travel without it again either. I happen to live in Nashville and the long walk through the airport is just too exhausting. I figure that I only have so much energy and I'd much rather save it for the vacation destination. It is so helpful and really lowers the overall stress.
  • Martha Armstrong   Sep 6, 2018 11:29 AM
    I needed to hear this! Sometimes having an invisible disease is hard. You put yourself down for being unable to do something and you do try to cover it up!
  • deborah   Sep 6, 2018 11:32 AM
    excellent article I haven't flown since I was diagnosed
    because of mobility. I walk with a cane now, but not far
  • Anna   Sep 6, 2018 11:37 AM
    It's taken me years to accept help when I travel. I appreciate every airport wheelchair, golf cart, lift operator and helpful face that I've encountered over the years. Airports can be large (Atlanta), fast paced (Atlanta) and confusing (Chicago) so having a little help along the way is a good thing. Nobody thinks less of you, looks in your direction, or any other negative thing you might think. Smile, say thank you, carry an assortment of bills for tip money and be thankful that your legs are getting a break. And if you help a struggling mother with small children by providing a lap for a child, you will be remembered as the person who helped, not the person in a wheelchair.
  • Tracey   Sep 6, 2018 11:45 AM
    Thank you for this. I have always traveled the majority of my life and was diagnosed a few years ago. My traveling has tapered off because of the head space I was in of using a wheelchair. I would use my walker before and get to the airport super early and take breaks until I got to my gate. Ridiculous, huh? Now I do use the assistance always but still feel awkward, but hoping by reading this it helps the next time. As I said I use a rolling walker to get around all the time. It would be nice to raise more awareness of the care that the luggage handlers use for our walkers when you have to check them at the gate. Over the last few years I have had to replace two walkers because they have been damaged in some way by the handlers. I don’t think they truly understand how much we rely on them to get around.
  • Jill   Sep 6, 2018 11:46 AM
    Hi, thank you for writing about this. I am young also and I was at the airport feeling embarrassed using a walker. I am afraid of using a wheelchair as my dad and aunt together used wheelchairs at the airport and the airport personnel treated them badly.
  • Veronica   Sep 6, 2018 11:52 AM
    My husband has MS and requesting airport assistance for the first time was cumbersome, but going through customs through the line that was for “Wheel chairs & Diplomats Only” made his day!
  • Danuta Donovan   Sep 6, 2018 11:59 AM
    My husband has MS and he refused to use wheel chair access at airport. His neurologist recommend that he use the resources available. I have a letter updated yearly by his Dr. which I carry with me when we travel. No questions asked by Southwest and other airlines we've flown. It makes it much easier to travel to the gates at the terminal. We check in and inform airline that he needs wheel chair access. Danuta
  • Peter   Sep 6, 2018 12:01 PM
    I've used airport assistance several times now and Southwest is great. The first time we parked at the curb and a Skycap came to our assistance and checked all of our bags, tagged my personal wheelchair, and escorted me down to parking lot shuttle service to meet up with my wife returning from parking. We proceed to security and were taken to the head of the long line. I had a pat down, able to stand ok, but later flights remained in the chair pat down. At the gate, attendant wheeled me to the plane, flight attendants helped me to our seats, got my chair to the cargo bay and off we go. Upon arrival, flight attendants helped me to a waiting wheelchair attendant and then brought mine to me and escorted us to baggage claim and transportation. Don't be afraid of assistance. They are well trained and courteous. Tip them, they deserve it.
  • Patty McDonald   Sep 6, 2018 12:12 PM
    Thanks I quit travelling, mainly because people are so rude. I've been cursed on planes because I wasn't deplaning fast enough. Wet my pants waiting to use the handicapped rest room as the person using it is anything but handicapped. And it goes on. Thankfully there are folks that are willing to help
  • Dave   Sep 6, 2018 12:13 PM
    Air travel is utterly exhausting, I never thought of requesting assistance but this article reminds me of time I had to get my dads wheelchair at the airport. It was electric so I decided to sit and drive it through the airport and to the parking lot. The judging looks I received sere shocking to say the least. Many were genuinely sad. I couldn’t say anything so I just kept going and learned a valuable lesson, including the lesson from the perspective of being perfectly healthy in the chair while people assumed I was handicapped...

    Perhaps I’ll make a request for assistance in a future trip, the MS fatigue is the toughest part for me. It would be quite weird as I’m healthy otherwise..
  • Marcy Valley   Sep 6, 2018 12:21 PM
    This is a great blog, and all the comments are very helpful.
    I just wanted to add a few practical tips.
    * Always sign up for wheelchair assistance with the airline at least 48 hrs in advance. It is sometimes difficult or impossible to get assistance at the airport, particularly if you are in a foreign country. Once when I really needed assistance to make a connecting flight with little time and a long walk, the airport person I asked said help wasn't available unless pre-arranged. We nearly missed the flight.
    * Be aware that if you request wheelchair assistance, they may restrict you from certain seats. If you are flying on a big plane with an upper deck reached by a staircase, make sure they know if you can climb the stairs without assistance. Once they switched my seat to the lower deck, or maybe even left me without a seat assignment, while leaving my husband in one of our reserved seats on the upper deck.
    * Always use the wheelchair when offered. If you don't use it, it is likely to be cancelled for the rest of your trip. Once when I told the check-in person that I didn't need it to get to the plane in LA, but would need it in the next airport, she said she would only cancel it for LA, but it would still be available at the next airport. It wasn't, and walks between gates in foreign airports can be really long, even if you don't have a disability.
    * Someone else mentioned tipping the helper. This is not required, but if you can afford it, you should do so.
    * A few other travel tips:
    * I don't normally use a cane, but when I travel, especially on a group tour, I take a collapsable cane and stool. The cane helps with stairs without railings and uneven pavement. The stool is great for sitting while everyone else stands around listening to the tour guide.
    * Research the places you intend to visit, e.g. the Acropolis, to see if they offer handicapped assistance, and reserve it in advance. Make sure you know how to get to the appropriate place. Insist that the cab driver take you as close as possible rather than leave you off at the normal tourist drop-off point. Waving a handicap placard in the drivers face may be necessary.
    * Buy the prepaid "skip the queue" tickets when available.
    * I have heard a few comments, even from airport assistance, about people who aren't handicapped using a wheelchair just to avoid lines. I ignore those comments, or respond in a way that indicates I'm sure they aren't making the comment about me.
    Bon voyage and have fun!
  • Karen Robideau   Sep 6, 2018 12:26 PM
    I totally understand. I never travel alone, so my family is very supportive. I don't care what other people think; however, I did overhear one woman say she wished she could get a wheelchair ride so she 'could be first in line.' I wish I'd had the courage to say, 'I'll gladly give you my wheelchair, if you'll take my Multiple Sclerosis.' However, you are right about the staff. They're wonderful. One young man asked when I deplaned whether I needed to use the restroom, which I did. He jokingly replied he was glad my daughters were with me to take me in there, but he would if he had to. Also, the reason we get to the head of the line is because there's someone else waiting for that wheelchair, so the attendants need to be as quick as possible.
  • Stephen Harris   Sep 6, 2018 12:37 PM
    I've been through several airports with a wheelchair. To me, it's the ultimate accessory. Like you said, no standing in lines. A very cursory pat-down (or none at all), I've had attendants racing me from gate to gate. The part inside the airplane, not so good. I went to the Montreux Jazz Festival a few years ago, they had a very complex and thorough wheelchiair assistance program - I had a volunteer assistant for they entire night, What put me in the chair sucks but now that I'm here, why not enjoy the perks?
  • Debbie   Sep 6, 2018 12:37 PM
    I traveled a lot And never asked for assistance until one day my younger sister said she got it for my mom who was having health issues and I should ask. Was diagnosed with RR in 1983. So finally I did! I will never fly again without requesting it! They made my traveling 100% easier and the whole trip more enjoyable and I don't care who looks at me!!
  • Margaret Chavez   Sep 6, 2018 12:57 PM
    My husband and I have traveled by air for many years with only minor problems. I did have an overly exuberant chair pusher ram the chair into the heels of a fellow cruise passenger once. He gave me very dirty looks until someone who saw what happened came to my defense. (It really wasn't my fault...I didn't know how to say "slow down" in Arabic! Anyway, no one needs to feel self conscious about using airport assistance. That's what it's for! Happy Travels!
  • Dina   Sep 6, 2018 12:58 PM
    This article really hit home. I occasionally travel for work & always have such a challenging time to get through the airport- so much walking!

    About a year ago I finally asked for wheelchair service at the airport & although it was a little disturbing to feel like I was “abusing/taking unfair advantage” of the system it was such a blessing. It made my travel so much easier.

    I completely agree that we may not be able to control our physical challenges but we sure have control over our attitude about it. It can also be a great learning opportunity for others to see a fairly young person deal with physical challenges & beat them by controlling how we react to such situations, by having a positive attitude. We will all most likely be hit with issues in our lifetimes & how WE respond to them determines how successful we are in beating them.

    Attitude is everything!

    Thank you so much for sharing!
  • Susan Groff   Sep 6, 2018 1:02 PM
    Great article; thanks for sharing.
  • MartiniMS   Sep 6, 2018 1:05 PM
    Great article! I felt the same way when I finally asked the airline for disability assistance. In small airports, I can use my cane, but since walking is slow for me and balance is an issue, I always tell check in that I need preboarding. They allow one person with you to help you board. But, in busy or large airports, like Heathrow, I use the wheelchair, their assistance through security is invaluable. I NEVER go to disabled lounge...choosing to use priority pass...less dreary.
    But, I must share my favorite Disability assistance was in Istanbul Airport! All other assistance is a wheelchair but in Istanbul they have attached a narrow chair to the front of a Segway! So, it is a very fast ride through the huge airport, quick turns and lots of fun. We almost ran over some people who didn’t watch out! I can not climb stairs, so they let the disabled ride up on the food service lift right to galley, then steps to my seat. Turkish Airways really does a great job assisting...kudos to them!
  • weezyc  Sep 6, 2018 1:09 PM
    Jessie, I really appreciated your story. I was brave this past spring and went on a plane trip from MD to FL and used the airline assistance by myself. I had many of the same feelings. I also was very rested and really enjoyed my trip. I was also proud of myself for trying something new!
  • Diane Reaves   Sep 6, 2018 1:12 PM
    I was diagnosed in 1980, and, though still mobile, I have always struggled with distances at airports. When I traveled with a friend who used to work for an airline and requests wheelchairs, she didn't believe that I wasn't using one for my MS. Now I request one when I make my flight reservations and put aside $5 bills for the people pushing the chairs at each stage of the trip. What a difference - and such nice people.
  • Jennifer   Sep 6, 2018 1:12 PM
    Thank you so much for this! Needed a reminder that (unfortunately) there a lot of us out there who share these same feelings!
  • Karen K Walker   Sep 6, 2018 1:40 PM
    I use airport assistance because it makes sense. There is no reason to feel exhausted by the time you get to the gate. Atlanta and Miami airports are so large that I could not have done all the walking without help. Thank goodness for their assistance! When you get a rude look or stare think to yourself how lucky they are not to have MS because they couldn't begin to deal with it! :)
  • Frances Herrera   Sep 6, 2018 1:46 PM
    I always request wheelchair assistance at the airport anytime I travel within or outside the USA.
  • Frances Herrera   Sep 6, 2018 1:48 PM
    I always request wheelchair assistance at the airport anytime I travel within or outside the USA.
  • ERICA G HINDS   Sep 6, 2018 1:52 PM
    I recently used the assistance when traveling for the first time I had mixed feelings. Because you do see some people looking at you but in my mind all I kept thinking about was my vacation. And like you when I saw the
  • Dawn   Sep 6, 2018 2:15 PM
    How can I get from my home to the airport and from the airport to the hotel
  • Dawn   Sep 6, 2018 2:17 PM
    How can I get from my home to the airport and from the airport to the hotel
  • Joe Townsend   Sep 6, 2018 2:38 PM
    I have had PPMS for 20 years and like everyone else, I fought every level of disability as long as possible - even the handicap parking spots. I saw a car full of what looked to be rugby players pull up into a handicap spot at the local drug store and come dashing out of the car to purchase their supply of energy drinks. After that I have no qualms about using the services to which I am legitimately entitled. I use a power scooter and my grandkids love it - even walking behind me beeping when I am backing up. You can't open a can of beans without a can opener and its the same with the "tools" we use to get the job done. Just FYI, Southwest Airlines is the best for those in need of some assistance.
  • Pat Patterson   Sep 6, 2018 2:58 PM
    I live in Scotland but my son and his family live in Texas. I try to go and visit them as often as I can. I went to spend Xmas with them on my last visit. I asked for assistance at the airport and was amazed how easy it was to arrange. Everybody was so nice and helpful. I would certainly use it again the next time I go back .
  • David Artz   Sep 6, 2018 3:00 PM
    I've had MS since 1990, use a walker now, slowly. Have used airport assistance for several years now. No shame or attention called. Couldn't do without it anymore.
  • Robyn Z   Sep 6, 2018 3:02 PM
    I used to feel that using assistance made me look like I wasn't normal. My sister told me that this is my new normal. That made me more comfortable with assistance.
  • DEAN WINFIEL   Sep 6, 2018 3:23 PM
    I AM OLDER THAN YOU [MY WIFE HAS MS, NOT ME] I HAVE EMBARASSED MYSELF FOR BELIEVING THAT THIS CERTAIN SO-AND-SO WAS JUST LAZY AND NOT DISABLED ONLY TO SEE THE GUY AS AN OBITUARY VERY SOON AFTER MY JUDGMENT. MY ADVICE: DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOUR CONDITION AND CIRCUMSTANCES....WHAT OTHERS MAY OR MAY NOT THINK IS UNIMPORTANT! tAKE THE WHEEL CHAIR GRATEFULLY AND GRACIOUSLY!
  • Julie   Sep 6, 2018 3:26 PM
    Your experience sounds verbatim to mine. Except it was my husband who set it up ahead of time without telling me. He knew how difficult it would be for me to navigate the airport. (Fatigue and weakness) Ugh! My husband later told me that he was ready for me to be angry with him, he said it was worth the risk. He’s always reminding me that I spend my energy in ways that I should try to reserve it.
    I too felt like I was advertising my ms. Had my head down and felt very uncomfortable. The airport staff was amazing! No questions ask, very friendly and I too skipped the wait lines. It’s tough to make the leap to accept help or assistance when I’ve done such a good job “hiding” my ms. Airports are generally big and lots of standing and walking. I’m grateful I had the help that day.
  • Debbie Johnson   Sep 6, 2018 3:33 PM
    I was so scared of the unknown. After looking online, I called the airline, told them I'd be using a scooter. They asked a couple of other questions, and told me I would have help. From the moment I went to the baggage check, personnel explained what would be happening. All went so smoothly. I was amazed that even the return trip was covered. They knew I was coming also. I am so thankful that they offered such great service.
  • Joel F.   Sep 6, 2018 3:50 PM
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am 70 and just got diagnosed about 3 years ago. I know exactly the feeling of wanting to look normal and not wanting to draw attention to my MS or to let it define me. At the insistence of my wife, I started using a cane a bit - but I resisted even that because I didn't want to look disabled.

    So when my wife suggested getting airport assistance in March on our trip to Europe I was pretty apprehensive for the reasons you mentioned. But then I remembered how friggin' big the Frankfurt airport was. We flew from LA to London to change planes. Then on to Frankfurt to visit friends for a few days. Then we were back in the Frankfurt airport on our way to Barcelona. We flew from there on a small aircraft to Granada, drove to Valencia and took a high speed train to Madrid. After working our way up to Bilbao and San Sebastian, we had to take another small plane back to Barcelona for our return flights home, including having to change planes in JFK.

    My point is not to provide a travelogue, but to emphasize 1) that this was an ambitious itinerary for someone with MS, and 2) that I don't think it would have been possible without the wheelchairs and the extremely kind people who worked at airport assistance and in the Madrid train station.

    Yes, I had to deal with people looking at me. But after my first experience with a wheelchair and the very professional people helping me, all I could say was thank God. With 2 1/2 pieces of luggage and some gift bags to carry on, these people and the assistance made the trip so much less demanding. On the 3 or 4 flights where there were stairs to climb, they arranged for a lift to take me on the plane through the doors they use to bring the food up to the plane. And with the wheelchairs, they escort you to a private entry to go through security so you don't have to stand in long lines.

    Now I'm a believer! It's hard enough to do "normal" things with a disability. Having this assistance actually helped me feel normal because it allowed me to take a trip that otherwise would have been daunting.
  • Wayne Halliday   Sep 6, 2018 4:19 PM
    My wife convinced me to make use of the service and it’s been a game changer. Yes I feel ‘wierd’ Being pushed through the airport, but I am so thankful for the service! One word of advice, make sure the flight attendants KNOW WHO THE WHEELCHAIR IS FOR! I arrived at LGA late and it seemed that because I wait to disembark because of my MS, some other passenger took the chai that was supposedly mine! Because the terminal was closing for the night it took nearly an hour to round up another one! Karma, do your work!
  • Larry Rhodes   Sep 6, 2018 4:30 PM
    My Wife has had MS for a little over 40 years. She still walks with a cane,(one tough lady) and we have an electric scooter for long shopping trips, but in airports we always have a wheelchair it just helps us get where we need to go a lot faster. When we use her electric scooter she leaves me in the dust! No one should ever feel ashamed about using airport assistance. As Jessie said they are more than glad to help. As for snide comments or judging looks, they simply don't understand, and that's their problem, not yours. My advice, Sit back and enjoy the ride!
  • Margaret   Sep 6, 2018 4:35 PM
    I am 67 with progressive ms. I just returned from Baltic Cruise. I use a small electric travel chair and need an aisle chair to get to my seat. I’m sure people stared but I don’t care. Don’t let pride or fear keep you from traveling.
  • Pat Biga   Sep 6, 2018 6:22 PM
    I postponed using airport assistance because I like to ignore the fact I have MS. I like to do as much as I can for as long as I can. There did come a day I wished I had used it because of the fatigue and slowness moving through a large airport from one end to the other. From then on I don't hesitate to ask for help. The airport staff has been more than helpful and pleasant while doing so. I don't hesitate asking for help anymore with any kind of transportation.
  • James Robertson   Sep 6, 2018 6:24 PM
    I've been 100% disabled ever since I retired from the Navy in 1985. Flying can be difficult with a disability. Just this year I have been diagnosed with MS, and I understand your plight and will always fly with assistance. Most airlines are accommodating, unless they are booked solid...then it can be a hassle. Thanks and go for it Jessie....
  • Mary   Sep 6, 2018 9:06 PM
    I know what you mean about feeling that all eyes are on you. I hate that feeling too. But it's too hard to do without it most of the time. One flight though, there weren't enough chairs at the end of the ramp when we landed. I wasn't in a hurry so let others go before me. But when my chair got there this guy from first class grabbed it & started putting all his carry-on items in it. My jaw dropped. Flight attendants protested, but he insisted that he had to have the chair for his stuff. Maybe he did. He didn't appear differently-abled, but we all know that doesn't mean squat. I waited for another chair & hoped that he really needed that one & wasn't just being an ass. Or that the rest of his luggage was destroyed in the carousel!😏
  • FLAP   Sep 6, 2018 9:58 PM
    Interesting POV. People judge. They can be blissfully helpful or horribly nasty, and I have found in any setting where there is mob-type frenetic activity, (airports, concerts, festivals) it can sometimes be a dog-eat-dog mentality which we must never allow to keep us from using the best methods we have available to navigate through crowds and still keep our cool. I really don't care what people think, that's their problem and I refuse to make it mine. I have used airport assistance every time I fly because that is what it's there for. Alternatively, I generally find TSA and other location security points can be difficult to manage, no matter what type of disability you may be dealing with. When you're trying to make a flight and encounter one of the agents who believe themselves to be the only astute and arrogantly all-knowing individual on duty, sparks can fly and situations escalate beyond control. In that event, I advise anyone dealing with a tough situation to immediately request the presence of a supervisor or airport security. Ask first, before a need arises. This strategy takes some guts and an overall understanding that not everyone who passes through security does so with any intent other than to board their flight. The agents in the front line are generally stoic and will not often have the time to enter into a calm and thorough discussion. I use an electric stimulation nerve conduction device for my MS related footdrop. If nothing else, if it's in my checked or carry on property, it may get me in trouble. Just walking through screening is traumatic, because the general shape combined with the electrode wires might, to some, appear to be an explosive device!! Trouble like that, no one needs. I have documentation from my MD along with device registration and literature and ID cards, just in case. It isn't my job to educate or to argue with any security agent, but getting the help from a supervisor is always a good idea. It's worked for me. I will use the airport assistance and the WC, it's what I need and I'm grateful for the help. Never let someone make your day go sour by judging what they do not know and will not understand. We have to stand up (figuratively and literally) for ourselves. There is help available, we just need to ask. Asking for help is not a crime. Don't make it harder on yourself. If you need it, ask for it.
  • Sheri   Sep 6, 2018 10:25 PM
    I always use airport assistance. You never know how you're going to be feeling, how long you'll have to walk, etc. The walking isn't as hard on me sometimes as is all the standing around in lines, and especially walking when trying to carry things (even my purse).
    Of course, people will look at you and wonder if you're really disabled. Just like when you use a handicapped placard. Get over it. They don't have the information you have so if that's what they think, they're misinformed. Their problem, not yours. You do not need anyone's approval to do the right thing. If they ask, thank them for asking and explain. If you believe yourself that you're doing the right and sensible thing, the majority of people will follow your lead. If you're doubting yourself (and, of course, many of us do sometimes), they'll pick up on that. If they do, so what?! If you're really having trouble with guilt, write a thank you note to the airline. In articulating your gratitude to them, you'll be articulating it to yourself as well.
  • Sandra Pinson   Sep 7, 2018 12:05 AM
    I've had MS since 1996, and I remember my first time in the wheel chair, feeling the same experience. People looking at you as if why is she in that chair, she looks young and healthy, I've had 4 major back surgeries as well. Yes we do feel awkward at first, then we get over it and Love the First Class treatment, with nothing accept Can I help You , are you Comfortable? This disease is invisible, we're NOT, and as humans we should never allow anyone to make up feel any less than we feel already. I wear my MS and it doesn't wear me even in my Worst days. Although it's in my right vision now, and I'm on injections, I still wake up daily and 😃, Thanking God, although my body alot of days hurt really bad. So with that said where ever I travel , and how I travel, its always happily, definitely booked with assistance,and I carry my MS identification with me every where I go and present it with my other form of Id . Even when I park in the Reserved parking for us they look at us crazy, like there's nothing wrong with you, walking an looking pretty normal to me, and of course I'm just waiting for someone to say something, Lol.Unless you've walked in my shoes you don't know my story although I can sure tell you. Its very interesting. Thank you and keep traveling, I fly all the time.🎊🎉🎈💞💯😍. Sincerely, Sandra Pinson
  • Marcella Kutek   Sep 7, 2018 1:25 AM
    I used a motorized scooter for the first time when I traveled by plan last month, and I was really worried that it would be an inconvenient. However, I was able to get from gate to gate quite quickly, and the airport staff was able and willing to check in the scooter at the gate and return it to me at arrival. The scooter actually made my journey more relaxing.
  • Toni   Sep 7, 2018 7:57 AM
    I used a chair at the an airport and it made the trip so much easier. I will absolutely use one again while traveling. It took me a bit of time to change my thinking. Then.... If I have MS I will take the privileges that may come with it - wheelchairs at airports, first boarding, handicap parking. I use what is there to save my energy to use my energy with my family and friends. I'm glad you had an euphony!
  • Leila Jordan   Sep 7, 2018 8:17 AM
    I always get assistance at the airport and have always been treated well. The experiences have always made me feel like a VIP.
  • Kathleen Kasper   Sep 7, 2018 8:31 AM
    How do you use this airport assistance? Is this available on cruises also? Taking a cruise in November with Norwegian Cruise.
  • Karen Phillips   Sep 7, 2018 9:20 AM
    How would I go about getting on a airplain with my schooter? I can transfer and my schooter comes apart.
  • Roger   Sep 7, 2018 9:37 AM
    Don't fly alegent air if you are in a wheel chair they put my electric chair. Out in the. Rain
  • Debbie   Sep 7, 2018 10:58 AM
    I have MS and required airport assistance when my husband & I visited our daughter in New Zealand. My experience with Heathrow was not a good or pleasant one. My husband & I were separated, he being sent off through customes & then to the boarding gate. I was placed only what I can describe as an electric train & taken all over the terminal, then left at a stop off point to be collected by another sometime later. My husband had phoned me to find out where I was (I had no idea) we did finally meet & were to be able to board the plane together. I felt as though I was an animal heading off to market.
    Singapore & New Zealand airports were totally different and we couldn't fault them in anyway. They were so friendly, informative & obliging. They treated me with respect & dignity allowing my husband to remain with me at all times.
    I couldn't have managed the epic journey without airport assistance. Such a shame the first time on using it at Heathrow made me apprehensive that I would endure the same experience throughout our journey. Homeward bound no problems even Heathrow!!
  • Beth Spellicy   Sep 7, 2018 12:01 PM
    I often use my walking poles to help me cover any distance more than 100' or so, which is the baggage line at the airport. As such I've always taken them to get me to my gate in the airport, however I was stopped by TSA in Denver when I flew in August. At the TSA Security check point I was told I needed to return to baggage, check my poles and take a wheelchair back.

    It's painfully obvious I have trouble walking. When I told the agent I had an MS disability and I've taken my poles on flights many times she told me “the rules changed and to take it up with Congress, and the White House", also "a cane would be OK". I limped back to baggage and had to take a wheelchair to my gate.

    I’ve had an ongoing dialogue with TSA Cares (which by the way doesn’t care) and have since asked the airline if I can commandeer a wheelchair (as a walker) on my next flight. Southwest said fine. I want to walk before I sit on a plane for hours.

    Getting turned around by TSA because my poles looked like their picture of “items not allowed” was the most irritating and depressing MS situation I have ever been subjected to, and I’ve been living with MS for 37 years. I should have asked for a phone number for the White House.
  • Avatar
    speedyguada  Sep 7, 2018 1:12 PM
    I completely understand!! I was the same way. I used to worry about people staring at me thinking " she is so young and looks totally fine... why does she need a wheelchair and get to cut all of the other people waiting for the flight?" I have come to realize exactly what you did, these strangers don't know me! When I was asked what was my "problem" by a passenger I simply told them that I am a goalie for a soccer travel team in America and suffered a knee injury. (explains the cane :) and I was traveling to go meet with them :o) She smiled and said good luck! Done. Background: I was a goalie on a soccer team a little while back so it wasn't that I was lying... it's a little white lie for my comfort :o) All the best and stay strong. It takes time but always remember that strangers don't know you or about you and it's human nature to be curious even though it can come off rude or wrong.
  • michael   Sep 7, 2018 2:11 PM
    Thank you Jessie, this im empowering. I am new to MS myself and find myself rapidly changing as a result. Not my physical state, but my mental state. I finally have come to realize that I am the one that facilitates any feelings of anxiety based on my reaction to others. Changing how I feel about myself and focusing less on other peoples judgements has helped me to feel better all around.
  • Ruthee Goldkorn   Sep 7, 2018 3:50 PM
    I use my own wheelchair and it is a liberator. I can do what I want when i want where I want travel as I see fit and run my consulting firm serving the disAbility community. Wheelchairs, walkers, canes and crutches are not enemies, they keep us safe and maintain our independence. Wheelchairs go on any solid surface including the moving walkways so common in airports. If a baby buggy goes there, we go there!!! That being said, I know how others view these things and I am sensitive to that.
    I also know how the airport works. Boy do I!

    Aside from flying a lot (I wish my wheelchair got frequent flier miles too!!) I serve on the Disability Accessibility Advisory Committee of Los Angeles World Airport Authority which serves 3 airports. This was created about 18 years ago after I sued them for no accessible services at an airport they had jurisdiction over at that time. No one does anything because the law says you have to until a judge tells you you have to.

    We provide all of the input, expertise, experiences and the ADA office liaison protects the rights of travelers with disAbility. We do a damn fine job! We do know about bad experiences using assistance services and we address them. If you are mistreated, disrespect, abandoned (yep! that's what I said) or harmed the airport has remedy for you. And aside from providing wheelchair service, there are golf carts. If you are not told what mode of transportation you will be given from sky cap to terminal and back again, ask. If you are not comfortable with a wheelchair, ask if there is a golf cart or other vehicle. If you are not accustomed to or uncomfortable with a wheelchair and that is all the airport has do 2 things: One, tell the assistant that you do not use a wheelchair and you are uncomfortable so that they do not say anything stoopid (sic). And believe me, the starts you get are inconsequential. Half the people are jealous and the other half are just stoopid (sic). The second thing you do, after your enjoyable vacay or productive business trip, is contact the
    airport(s) you encountered who have only wheelchairs. Tell them to get a golf cart or two, including a wheelchair accessible golf cart (yep! that's what I said) and they see a return on that investment, Many airports have golf carts.

    Who we are as people is most often overlooked or ignored. Express yourself. When I teach travel services to our people, I tell them they have the most powerful word in any language at their disposal: NO. NO to ignorance, NO to stoopidity (sic), NO to TSA, NO to rude flight staff including pilots and NO to disrespect and Civil Rights violations. The sky's the limit...or is it??!!
  • Heather Hernandez   Sep 7, 2018 5:26 PM
    What a relatable and inspiring piece! Thank you for sharing, Jessie. Have you heard about blogger Ardra?? She writes a lot of great stuff about using walking aids and accepting your awesomeness! https://www.trippingonair.com
  • Avatar
    sharon-peer  Sep 7, 2018 5:40 PM
    My daughter struggles with the same inner voices. “Mobility aids are tools, like eye glasses. Only no one tells you to ‘just try harder’ when you need glasses......’. An Instagram quote from @ms_trippingonair Taking that comparison a little further, you could compare a wheelchair to an elevator or a skycap at the airport. Just another tool in the toolbox. Keep your head up!
  • Gladys Shaw   Sep 7, 2018 6:17 PM
    I relate to this story as it was difficult the first time I used the wheelchair. Now it is second nature to me. When I purchase a ticket I request a wheelchair. It is amazing how much energy it saves.
  • Dianne Cook   Sep 7, 2018 6:31 PM
    Hi Jesse. I traveled about a month ago. The only baggage I was carrying was my computer bag. I had to walk a long way. About halfway to my gate my legs just wanted to go out from under me. I leaned against the wall for a bit, then walked, then leaned, etc. this happened in the lay over airport and the airport I finally arrived at and I hate to say it, but not one person asked if I was alright, if I needed help. It was so evident that I needed help. I was mortified. I’m thankful your experience was so much better than mine.
  • Dianne Cook   Sep 7, 2018 6:32 PM
    Hi Jesse. I traveled about a month ago. The only baggage I was carrying was my computer bag. I had to walk a long way. About halfway to my gate my legs just wanted to go out from under me. I leaned against the wall for a bit, then walked, then leaned, etc. this happened in the lay over airport and the airport I finally arrived at and I hate to say it, but not one person asked if I was alright, if I needed help. It was so evident that I needed help. I was mortified. I’m thankful your experience was so much better than mine.
  • Dianne Cook   Sep 7, 2018 6:34 PM
    Hi Jesse. I traveled about a month ago. The only baggage I was carrying was my computer bag. I had to walk a long way. About halfway to my gate my legs just wanted to go out from under me. I leaned against the wall for a bit, then walked, then leaned, etc. this happened in the lay over airport and the airport I finally arrived at and I hate to say it, but not one person asked if I was alright, if I needed help. It was so evident that I needed help. I was mortified. I’m thankful your experience was so much better than mine.
  • Dianne Cook   Sep 7, 2018 6:35 PM
    Hi Jesse. I traveled about a month ago. The only baggage I was carrying was my computer bag. I had to walk a long way. About halfway to my gate my legs just wanted to go out from under me. I leaned against the wall for a bit, then walked, then leaned, etc. this happened in the lay over airport and the airport I finally arrived at and I hate to say it, but not one person asked if I was alright, if I needed help. It was so evident that I needed help. I was mortified. I’m thankful your experience was so much better than mine.
  • Dianne Cook   Sep 7, 2018 6:36 PM
    Hi Jesse. I traveled about a month ago. The only baggage I was carrying was my computer bag. I had to walk a long way. About halfway to my gate my legs just wanted to go out from under me. I leaned against the wall for a bit, then walked, then leaned, etc. this happened in the lay over airport and the airport I finally arrived at and I hate to say it, but not one person asked if I was alright, if I needed help. It was so evident that I needed help. I was mortified. I’m thankful your experience was so much better than mine.
  • Linda Harris   Sep 7, 2018 9:16 PM
    Yes, I use a wheelchair and an isle chair seat to get to my seat. My husband and I are usually the first on the plane, however we are also the last to get off. This sometimes makes connecting flights difficult. We still enjoy traveling despite the set backs of getting off last.
  • Cheryl   Sep 7, 2018 11:15 PM
    Always use a wheelchair when traveling alone. The airports are getting bigger and bigger. I can not stand in long lines at TSA screening.
    Realized I can’t do escalators anymore. Almost fell on one this spring. That was so scary!
  • Sharon   Sep 8, 2018 1:33 AM
    I had an exacerbation very first day of vacation, and needed to fly home immediately. I was impressed by the service at LAX. Everyone who helped me had a smile on their face, and engaged me in conversation. I was so grateful for this assistance.
  • Neal Gaylor   Sep 8, 2018 7:32 AM
    Yes, my wife and I both have MS and we ALWAYS use airport assistance when we fly! Every experience has been pleasant and the people who help are wonderful!!!
  • georgie   Sep 8, 2018 8:14 AM
    As I read this I felt like someone knew exactly how I feel most of the time. I am often weak but, refuse to use a wheel chair for the reasons you noted. The heck with what people think ! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful insight.
  • Lillian   Sep 8, 2018 8:15 AM
    Yes, and like you it was very hard for me to use a wheelchair I hid my face in my luggage But now thats.only way I go. I feel what's worst walking like I am drunk and falling or sitting in a chair and saving my energy for when I get to where I am going.
  • Donna   Sep 8, 2018 8:46 AM
    Hi, never been on Airplane yet since diagnosis, but want to know all I need to know. I use a Walker now always. Thanks
  • Paige   Sep 8, 2018 8:47 AM
    I honestly thought the same exact thing when I was flying home for my sisters wedding a few years back. I thought they’d ask questions or for some proof but I NEEDED help getting to my connecting flight and getting to my ride home from the plane. I stopped caring a while before that and just stood up, went to the counter, and asked for help. There were zero questions asked and I couldn’t be more thankful. Then they put me in a wheelchair to get me to my connecting flight and I felt the stares but like you said, I will never see these people again so what do I care?
    Thank you for your words. We must stand together and empower one another.
  • Delia Márquez   Sep 8, 2018 8:48 AM
    You are soooo right about your experience. I went through it when I used the services at the airport for the first time. I felt that all eyes were on me and their minds were thinking “she looks fine.... why is she in a wheelchair?... why does she get priority?”. Part of me wanted to be invisible just like MS.
  • Ellen   Sep 8, 2018 8:59 AM
    Way to go Jessie and keep up the good work!
  • Karen Turek   Sep 8, 2018 11:05 AM
    I used airport assistance last year and I am so happy I did / hadn’t flown in over 20 years and so much had changed so I did not need added stress to my trip / I know now that I could not have walked that far thru
    these airports
  • Diana Taylor   Sep 8, 2018 11:55 AM
    I use it every time and wouldn't tried it for the world! It saves my energy plus I don't suffer leg spasms trying to walk fast having to find my gate!!!!
  • Richard W. Campbell   Sep 8, 2018 12:02 PM
    I certainly understand anyone's hesitance in using airport assistance. Having worked at several airports throughout the US as an aircraft mechanic, I even felt embarrassed initially. However, I shed my pride soon thereafter, after I was treated like a king. I was whisked through TSA security, gate check in and one first people to board the aircraft. Which meant I had my choice of seats other than the emergency exit row. I'm learning everyday to swallow my pride and ask for help. People are generally happy to help. Moreover, I suggest going to the TSA website and locate information on the TSA Pre check program. Acceptance in this program will allow you to be whisked through TSA security.
  • Jeana Hearn   Sep 8, 2018 12:33 PM
    I was diagnosed with MS at the age of 27 and am now 65. Have experienced feelings similar to yours the whole time! Recently, I have had a urinary diversion be cause of uncontinence, and require the use of a scooter when traveling long distances. Have never used airport assistance, however in a recent flight where my husband was. injured during the trip and required a wheelchair at the airport, I watched him sail through security while I was undergoing an “extensive” security check. After filing a complaint with TSA, they recommended the use of airport assistance in an effort to avoid this situation.
  • Margaret   Sep 8, 2018 12:59 PM
    I traveled alone by air recently and used the wheelchair service provided. It was great! Because I was by myself, and it had been so long since I have flown, I was encouraged to take advantage of the service. No stress!
  • Mike Saulsbury   Sep 8, 2018 1:41 PM
    My thoughts exactly! Airport assist is a nice perk today when traveling by plane.
  • Diana   Sep 8, 2018 2:53 PM
    I read and appreciated your post! Until recently, I traveled by plane often for work. As you said, we all are different and I have always been able to (barely) make it through the process. What works for me is that I always carry a rolling briefcase, the kind with 4 wheels. Even when I travel for fun, I take the briefcase. Then I use all elevators, not escalators. The rolling briefcase acts as the best cane. Nobody knows that I would be stumbling and struggling without my "rolling cane"!
  • Sharon McChrystal   Sep 8, 2018 4:27 PM
    Most airlines , after you purchase your ticket, will move you and you companion up to the seats in front with more legroom without incurring the extra $. You just need to call and tell them you have a have a problem walking long distances. Trust you also know you can also always be preboarded.
  • Luanne Blaylock   Sep 8, 2018 9:30 PM
    Thanks for your thoughts! MS can truly be invisible until high energy and stamina is required. A person can only control their own actions and attitudes. We all do the best we can with the situation we are handed. Positive thoughts and confidence about our strengths, not our weaknesses, will help us make it through.
  • Rachel Oliker   Sep 8, 2018 9:33 PM
    I also had a very good experience in the airport, when my parents and I were traveling. I was uncomfortable at first, as you described, for various reasons. I realize that this assistance provided great relief for the whole family. I was at the front of the line to board the plane, and my parents were not far behind, which was very good.
    Thank you for sharing, as it is so vital to know of the various situations that can add convenience and increase safety.
    Rachel Oliker
  • Catherine   Sep 9, 2018 12:22 AM
    I always travel with my Best Friend that has MS. The first time I asked for assistance she was very hesitant,but now when I make airline reservations, she asks did you get assistance? It it the best thing.
  • LeaAnn   Sep 9, 2018 12:22 AM
    This was encouraging to read! We have s trip to St Kitts coming up, and I think I’ll ask for this when leaving there if it’s as hot as it was the last time. I was struggling so much to stand up straight and even walk last year, but I was determined to not use a wheelchair! I didn’t want to admit that I needed help, so I stubbornly pushed through it. It was a miracle that I didn’t trip and fall before making it onto the plane! I think this next time I will request it so I have my energy available after the trip!
  • Helen Little   Sep 9, 2018 1:02 AM
    I have been using airport assistance for years. I agree with everything that has been written but want to add to have some $1 and $5 bills where you can get to them easily for tipping. Airport assistance will help with going to the restroom, buying a snack or magazine or other errands when traveling alone. A smile and friendly greeting go a long way to good service I have found even on days when I did not feel well.
  • Kathy   Sep 9, 2018 1:41 AM
    I do not have MS, my sister does. However, I do have fibromyalgia and arthritis. I am also overweight, which I have been trying to overcome for years. I travel very rarely and had no idea how hard it was going to be. I had a two-hr layover in Miami, and I almost didn't make it to the gate on time. I was in so much pain and so fatigued by the time I got to my destination, I had to completely rest for two days when I arrived. Coming home, it was much worse, and I had to go to bed and do almost nothing for two days. I tried to get help at the airport on the trip back; it was so hard to ask, and I was turned down. I wanted to cry before the whole thing was over. I have to travel again next year through the same airport, and I will arrange help before leaving. I'm not even young, but there will probably be people who will say something about my weight, but I don't care. MS is not the only invisible condition. Thank you for this post because I was considering not going anywhere in the future.
  • Yvonne   Sep 9, 2018 7:07 AM
    The first time I used airport assistance I was truly embarrassed. Like everyone on this blog, no one can see our disability and like everyone, I would put my head down and couldn't wait to board the plane. I quickly got over it when I realized how helpful the assistance was especially if I traveled alone. Pope John Paul XXIII quoted

    "Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do."
  • Patti Ann Palacino   Sep 9, 2018 7:45 AM
    I have used handicap assistance, my granddaughter was embarrassed. It seems she doesn't realize how stress can play a big part in my life ....I am going to Mexico in October and will go the same route with the assistance makes an
    enormous difference in traveling
  • Connie Power   Sep 9, 2018 8:03 AM
    What a fabulous article! I’ve recently come to realize its best for me to get assistance at airports. Jessica’s statement about “feeling naked” was exactly how I felt! My brain knew that was stupid, but we all still want to show how tough we are. Now I just look at it as that much more energy I’ll have for my trip. Would have missed a connection last flight if I hadn’t used it.
  • Susan   Sep 9, 2018 8:04 AM
    We flew from Philly to Florida with connections and I also had the airport assist. Even though my husband assured me I'd be ok, I was still terrified that I wouldn't get the assistance at the airports thinking I would get "lost" in the system. All airports were "on board" at all connections and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
  • carol cathey   Sep 9, 2018 8:24 AM
    Though much older than Jessie, I too balked at using a wheelchair at the airport considering it "giving up." It proved a wonderful experience which saved me all the fatigue and hassle I had normally experienced at airports. An added plus is that your travelling companion also gets to skip long lines and gets to board first with you. A win situation for all!😁
  • Judith Norris   Sep 9, 2018 9:52 AM
    Jesse, Good job, Thumbs UP! My wonderful husband and I fly frequently. I am grateful for airport assistance! It helps in many ways, all of which have been mentioned. The USA has come a l-o-n-g way in recognizing and helping disabled people. Most "normal" folks are helpful, not judgemental. Enjoy your travels.
  • Paula   Sep 9, 2018 10:07 AM
    Jessie, I read your blog and understand the feelings you had. I thought the same thing when I moved from Kansas City, MO to Florida to be near my brother & family. I flew Delta Airlines connecting in Atlanta, GA (one of the busiest/biggest airports in the country). I KNEW I could not make it to my connecting gate with a layover of less than an hour. I could get knocked down by people rushing through the airport or not paying attention looking at their phones. I'd have to walk near a wall or rail. I knew I would be EXHAUSTED by the time I got to KC. I called the airlines ahead and requested wheelchair assistance. I felt most of the same feelings like you (I'm 55 but look younger) like you too but knew all that mattered was my safety and personal well-being & tipped the folks that "wheeled" me to my gate. They even asked if I needed to stop at the last restroom before getting to my gate. I think most folks can tell by the way I walk that I have issues. I think there has been more awareness for the "invisible" conditions like MS or Fibromyalgia. I enjoyed reading your blog and admire you in your mission as stated above. You were certainly diagnosed at a younger age and that is difficult. I was healthy all my life & diagnosed at age 44. Thank you for sharing your story. The bottom line is that YOU were able to enjoy your trip and had energy. That's all that matters.
  • Catherine Harnett   Sep 9, 2018 3:15 PM
    Thanks for the article. I am that annoying, too-proud person who disrupts other travelers when I think I can do it all. My balance is dreadful, which means that trying to go down the aisle with a carry-on is hazardous to me and the poor people in aisle seats. I fell on the Metro escalator a few years back--suitcase went flying, I log-jammed the people behind me, all because I wanted to show myself how I was perfectly fine. It could have been tragic, but my Guardian Angel stepped in. I had a long talk with myself, and now use the elevator, take more time than I need. From now on I'll ask for help if it's available. Other passengers will thank me for it!
  • Sandra   Sep 9, 2018 4:45 PM
    I have had MS 55 yrs. Now 76. When I could walk in airport s I did, but loved sitting in a wheelchair when the time came. It made navigating the airport system and boarding so much easier and reduced the stress. Saved my energy for what I "wanted" to do. Enjoy your life! May be a different way to do so but find it.
  • Bryna Parry   Sep 9, 2018 5:47 PM
    I want to say, thank U so much for this blog. I too have MS & last September I flew to Nashville, then to Dallas & finally back home to Portland, Oregon. I am now 69 yrs old & I am so glad I learned about airport assistance. There was no way that I could have gotten to where I needed to be without that help & by using that assistance my husband & I had a great vacation. Let me say, those airports are so huge with long concourses. I find that even at home if I have a busy week filled with many appointments or & lots of things to do 4 or more days in a week that, I become exhausted after all is said & done. I collapse & I spend the next 2-3 days just wanting to sleep & just rest because, of the severe fatigue. When I plan such a busy week I too am forgetting that in the end I will pay. I was not diagnosed with MS until I was 52yrs old & my previous diagnosis was that I was a depressed hypochondriac with Fibromyalgia. Finally, I was referred to Dr Stanley Cohen while I was in St. Vincent Hospital’s inpatient Unit for severe depression. Dr Cohen is a fantastic Neurologist whom just happened at the time to be the Director of the MS Society in Oregon. He recognized my symptoms & ordered an MRI of which, verified his diagnosis. I had never had an MRI before & he suspected I had been misdiagnosed since I was in my late 20’s to early 30’s. I suffered all those years with severe depression & I underwent ECT numerous times. I also suffered severe leg pain which gave me the diagnosis of drug seeker with the secondary misdiagnosis of Fibromyalgia. Dr Cohen put me on Avenox injections & today I am on the generic Copaxone. I am very stable with Relapsing Remitting MS. Outwardly, I look normal & no one would think I wasn’t anything but, a active appearing Senior citizen without any health problems. I even need to remind myself often that people are people that think because, outwardly we look normal we should be normal. I have tried whenever possible to let others know I have MS. It has become my goal to teach & enlighten people what MS is & how each of us can be affected so differently. It’s time for us MS suffers to educate the public & by doing this MS will come to the forefront & just maybe, by people becoming more aware we will get more supporters to give to the MS Society so, researchers can find a cure to what, may become a progressive & crippling disease for many MS suffers. Thank U again so very much. Sincerely, Bryna
  • Suzanne Parker   Sep 10, 2018 7:36 AM
    I want to make sure that everyone with MS (and others with other types of disabilities) knows about both of these companies. Please call Care Vacations if you ever need to rent a scooter or a wheelchair. Their number is 877.478.7827. If you're traveling to Dominican Republic, please call Handicap Travelers DR at 809.552.8709. It will save you from wondering how you're going to survive a vacation that requires a lot of walking. I went on a cruise in 2015 and thought, how the heck am I going to handle all of that walking? I don't remember how I found out about it but I could just hug them and kiss them repeatedly. :) When I entered my stateroom, the scooter and the charger/plug was there for me. It lifted all of the stress and the anxiety that I had. I didn't care that it was $200 for four days (ok a little bit :) but it was worth every penny and I saved myself a lot of tears and stress.
  • Renee Beckford   Sep 10, 2018 7:39 AM
    This brought back so many memories! I was diagnosed at 25 I'm now 36. My first trip I felt so embarrassed. I felt like everyone was staring at me as I sat in the wheelchair. I kept my head down the whole time! Now I dont care because this service has helped me tremendously and I shouldn't feel ashamed. I embrace the fact that sometimes I just need a little assistance!
  • Susan   Sep 10, 2018 8:14 AM
    I took a flight with my family recently, and airport personnel was great When I boarded the plane, some first class passengers were already seated. Many people encouraged me, and a few told me to hang on to their shoulder or headrest. I use a scooter, and I was offered an aisle chair, but holding on to seats worked!
  • Pam   Sep 10, 2018 9:01 AM
    I have had MS for 27 years and am now in a wheelchair. I have to get assistance getting on and off the plane as my chair is too wide to fit thru the plane isle. I still am lucky to be able to stand for a small amount of time and pivot into my seat. I have not flown without my husband accomping me. He can not take me onto the plane the airport staff must help me and yes I’m still embarrassed that I need help. I’m 68 and shouldn’t feel this way but I do. So your not alone in this and I’m sure many of us do feel this way when getting the help we need.
  • John Smithers   Sep 10, 2018 11:11 AM
    I was diagnosed in 1980. The disease got worse then better over the years. I worked until 2012. At that time I couldn't walk well (kept falling down, even with a cane). I had nerve pain all the time and weakness on my right side. With MRIs, I found out the disease had attacked my brain and made a lot of black holes. Most near the stem. The next year I got one and it showed progression in my brain. I used a lot of different drugs and I was currently on Copaxone. It obviously stopped being effective. My doctor put me an Lemtrada. This is a 5 all day infusion, the first year and a 3 day infusion the second year. It has worked fantastic. My M.S. has not progressed! My body hasn't improved but it feels great to not have most of the symptoms any more! Caveat: The drug removes the immune system. I have had to stay mostly in my home the last 5 months. My body should put my immune system back in 6 to 7 months. The drug cost $120,000. Medicare pays 80%. The manufacturer found a foundation to pay the copayment (easy process!). I was only out the cost of a hotel room while I got the treatment.

    If you have M.S. and haven't been on treatments, you should! It kept me working most of my adult life! Also, if you can, get on Lemtrada. If you are working, you can't take it but there are other great drugs out there! Please don't limit yourself. Drugs will let you keep a great life.
  • John Smithers   Sep 10, 2018 11:17 AM
    I have used airport assistance the last several years. It is indeed great. The wheelchair pushers get you to the correct terminal in great time. I always had issues finding my terminal (not M.S. related).

    Keep in mind these folks really don't get paid a salary. They work on tips. Think about how much work it would be if you walked to your terminal. then think about being the pusher. After that, tip appropriately. I tip $10 each ride.

    Another thing, I used to ride my mobility scooter directly to the airport (during bad sessions). They would take my scooter and put it in stowage at the gate. It didn't cost me any extra fair price. They may need to take your scooter at check in now. I am not sure. Does anyone know?
  • Diana Hardy   Sep 10, 2018 1:02 PM
    I, too, experienced some of this reluctance when I was first diagnosed. The challenge for me was waiting in Security's line. I complained about it, showed my disability card and was told to request wheelchair assistance...what????me in a wheelchair??? All I needed was help going thru that line. Things have changed alot. Now all I do is flash my card at the head of the line and I am shown a quick way thru. When my husband is with me, he is now having troubles walking so we now get a buggy ride. This has proved soooooo helpful when we are traveling internationallly. Those drivers, wheelchair folks know the shortcuts and whisk you thru!
  • Jim Mabus   Sep 10, 2018 2:08 PM
    There are several things to think about in advance: 1) If your flight will have a walkway directly to the plane, they will roll you up to the plane's door. 2)When on the plane, you usually can use the chair backs to hold on when walking down the aisle, but if not doable, they do have available narrow chairs that they can use to move you in the plane. BE SURE to ask ahead to have such a chair available for you. 3.) If your flight involves a plane change, be sure to allow plenty of time between flights. The flight attendants will call ahead to have a chair and "porter" waiting for you, but sometimes they do not move as fast as you'd like AND you usually will be asked to deplane last. 4.) Along with #3, you usually can board first IF you are to the boarding gate in time. Yes, this may elicit a few stares if you appear mobile, but do not let that stop you. Some of the jetways are very long and have trip hazards. Again, they should wheel you right to the plane door.

    We have been dealing with MS for over thirty years and have flown with very few problems, but little glitches to occur. No matter how it is handled, it may be stressful, and that is not a good thing for MS patients. Stay calm and maybe these hints will help.
  • Anna   Sep 10, 2018 4:13 PM
    I cant walk but i want to visit my grsnddaughters n pa how do i do tjis by myself?
  • Maria Femminella   Sep 10, 2018 4:29 PM
    Hello! Read the blog. Felt as if was written by me. Took me time to accept disability & wheelchair use. Have come to conclusion that no one cares! Younger people accept it more easily than older adults.(Education system is to thank) No explanation needed. Assistance available everywhere-just a matter of saying /asking for help.. Overall, just having MS is the challenge.
  • Lisa   Sep 11, 2018 10:42 AM
    I understand. I had to face the reality that at big airports, was no longer able to make the huge hike from the ticket counter to the gate without a wheelchair.

    Plus, the great part is you get to go to the front of security through the special line. I learned my lesson after one instance when I had to use the restroom so badly. I finally had to leave the line, and didn't make it to the toilet in time. I lost control of my bowels. I had a on Depends but it was not suffiicient. I was wearing cute white jeans.

    So now I swallow my pride and get the wheelchair. FYI, most of the airlines are really good about making sure the wheelchair is ready for you when you get off the plane. Except United. I try to avoid United at all costs.
  • Kim DONOGHUE   Sep 12, 2018 1:53 AM
    A late comer to the clan , thank you for paving the way and helping others to feel comfortable to ask for help .
  • Peggy Gratz   Sep 12, 2018 10:36 AM
    I am 73 and I was diagnosed with MS last year although I have had it for years I am sure. My main concern is that I have to use a walker all the time and that I have become so dependent on my wonderful husband.
  • Avatar
    pricklybee  Sep 12, 2018 2:09 PM
    I guess they're not looking at us, but it sure feels like it;)
    My last airport "assistance" experience was waiting for a wheelchair for over 20 minutes since it was too far to the next gate for me to walk (traveling always makes me even more fatigued than usual). We finally gave up and I crutched it all the way. sigh
  • Carole   Sep 12, 2018 3:23 PM
    I used assistance for the first time to LV last December. Everyone was so nice and helpful. Make my trip much more enjoyable. Other travelers were also accommodating when I was boarding.
  • Madeline   Sep 12, 2018 7:41 PM
    Attitude is so important. When the strict pre-boarding procedures were put into place I stopped flying, knowing that my legs might give out part way through the check-in. I even stopped visiting my family, until someone suggested asking for wheelchair assistance.

    My first thought was, "I'm not THAT bad - save that for someone who needs it more." But I finally tried it, and it was a terrific help. And not nearly as embarrassing as collapsing onto the floor in front of strangers.

    In has unexpectedly allowed me to travel with dignity. I now have the freedom to fly again, and everyone who has helped me has been unfailingly helpful and non-judgemental. It is a wonderful program, and I hope it remains as good as it has been.
  • Allan Miller   Sep 13, 2018 10:10 AM
    I have used airport assistance many times. Now I'm asking for full wheelchair assistance and a pat down rather than getting out of the wheelchair and walking through the scanner. Airport assistance really saves my energy. I have had great experiences in Canada and the USA. The only problem was in Fort Lauderdale airport where we were told we would have to wait in line with eight other people. So my wife just took a wheelchair and pushed me. It's usually excellent.

    Those who live with MS fatigue should use wheelchair assistance. If you fall down you will have a bad day. They will have a worse day and they will have to fill out a lot of forms!
  • Chris   Sep 13, 2018 7:44 PM
    Using airport assistance is available to all and is self nominating. Old people, fat people, pregnant ladies, psych cases, paraplegics, people with MS. We are all in the same boat. Don't think we're special or somehow more privileged. We are shamed and degraded by our disabilities. Embrace it!
  • Tina   Sep 13, 2018 8:18 PM
    "Airport assistance" is in partthe purview of the carrier with whom you're traveling. I have been pushed flat on my face by aggressive fellow passengers because I was not permitted to preboard (American Airlines) and assisted in an efficient, upbeat manner (Southwest). Absolutely coddled by the national carriers of countries like Morocco and Colombia. We need to call out the bad actors and support the companies that get it. And always remember that the people who push your wheelchair are shamefully underpaid contractors. They do not work for the airlines or the airport. Tip them as generously as you can!
  • darla   Sep 14, 2018 11:44 AM
    I travel a lot and just used airport assistance for the first time. It made such a difference is my mental and physical condition at the airport. I learnt a lot when I did this
    1. you dont have to pay for service, just tip if desired.
    2. I did not have to force myself to walk thru huge terminals
    3. I got to enjoy the company of some very nice people, who pushed my wheelchair.
    4. After sitting in plane for 2 hours, it takes me forever to walk down gangplank to get off, not this time a smiling helpful person just was waiting to whisk me to my next plane.
    5. I was able to sit near the boarding area and pre board
    It was a sucessful new experience, mainly because I did the mental prep work before going to airport.Try it and let yourself not arrived exhausted
  • Loretta McElveen   Sep 14, 2018 5:32 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story and your experience with using the airport assistance I have the same feelings you were having my daughter would always ask me why I don't use the assistance at the airport my response to her would be I don't want people looking at me and judging me your story has encouraged me to start using the sources of accommodations that are offered in other ways also I have been living with MS since 1999 and have never taken the time to find out the help that is available for people like us living with MS thanks again for inspiring me to learn how to use help where and when needed I live in a townhouse with three floors and a lot of days it's a challenge with going up and down the stairs I am inspired more now then ever to research information on how I can get funding to have a elevator installed in my home thanks again
  • Tracy Dunbar   Sep 17, 2018 8:40 PM
    I too can relate to this article as I am just returning back for a "Girls Trip" in Dallas today. I used the airport assistance to navigate throughout the airport and felt stigmatized as the glares circulated, however it was the absolute BEST decision for me. Recognizing this point, I've never felt better in facing my challenges head-on without allowing the snares of others to cause me to lose sight of positive decisions for me.
  • Nikki   Sep 19, 2018 12:49 AM
    I felt the exact same way. And I needed to save energy so I can have fun with my brother. I would have been worn out if I didn't finally take his advice and use the wheelchair only for the airport. I try so hard everyday to stay strong and I finally figured out I'd have more energy if I had some assistance. It was cool that I got first dibs on the plane and nobody asked me what was wrong either. Mostly I got comments that they liked my spiky hair
  • Courtney   Sep 20, 2018 6:19 AM
    Does it cost anything to use the airport assistance?? I'm going on vacation next week and need to know this asap. It will be my first time at an airport since I was a child. I have RRMS and my walking is getting somewhat bad if I have to walk a long distance. Can you please let me know very, very, very soon??? Again, I'm leaving 9-28-18.
  • stevebrenda  Oct 5, 2018 7:41 AM
    Similar experience when we went to Cancun several years back with our teen age daughters.
    ....on the trip home from Cancun..............Monday morning we knew we had to go home that afternoon. We had time enough for the kids to get a couple hours of swimming. We packed our bags, checked out and took the shuttle to the airport. This is where the vacation got fun.
    There where long lines to get through customs and to get our boarding passes. Luckily, a Fun Jet representative took us through a line for handicapped and people with other needs. This saved a lot of time and energy. We found our “gate” in the terminal. This “gate” was actually where you stood until the tram came and shuttled you to the airplane. The tram was air conditioned. When we arrived at the airplane, they wanted me to get off before everyone else. I insisted that everyone else go first, then I would follow at my own pace and not feel so rushed. Besides, I was comfortable in the air conditioned tram.

    This was fine until everyone was off of the tram. Then it was my turn to climb down the steps and then into the wheel chair. This is where I met my challenge. It is then that I find that the Cancun airport does not have loading gates, but rather you must climb a lot of steps to get onto the plane. Pretty much like the ones you see the President using when he is coming out of Air Force One. Okay, it is hot out. You dropped me off in the middle of the run way (hot asphalt). You want me to walk up the thirty steps. The staircase is six foot wide. I cannot grab both sides to pull myself up with the banisters. What next? Well panic mode sets in. My legs freeze up solid. My knees will not bend at all. I cannot make the first step. Great, now what do I do?

    The airline employees see my problem. They ask if I want any assistance. I thought to myself “what are they going to do, hold my hand?” Quite the opposite. Two guys come around the plane with a black vinyl chair with a six foot board strapped to the back to the chair. I am instructed to sit in the chair while they strap me to it. They lean the chair back, six guys grab various places on the chair and proceed to carry me up the stairs. I sure did not see that one coming when I woke up that morning! It was kind of embarrassing, but when you roll with the punches, I thought it was actually pretty funny by the time I got to the top. Thanks guys, you saved my butt.
  • Tracy   Oct 5, 2018 2:43 PM
    Thank you for writing this article, this is exactly how I feel. But you are so right, I need to get over the feeling that I am being judged for using assistance. The airport can be very intimidating but with help it would make vacationing so much better.
  • Tammy   Oct 5, 2018 3:50 PM
    I have had to use airport assistance to get me to my flight on a few occasions. It’s very weird to me to accept assistance like this. I end up tipping generously, partly out of this guilty feeling. Had I not accepted wheelchair assistance, my legs would be left feeling like a hundred pounds after walking the airport. So, on travel days I know my energy levels will run low, I will seek out assistance. And be thankful for it.
  • Lonna Baxter   Oct 5, 2018 7:07 PM
    I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in October 2011, at the age of 44. I woke up one morning with numbness in my lower back and legs, I couldn’t feel my feet touching the floor. I saw my doctor and had an MRI to see if I had a disc problem, it was negative and she told me she feared MS. I was sent to a neurologist, had two more MRIs, and was told that night that I have four lesions on my spine MS. I tried every shots available but nothing worked. In 2015, my neurologist and I decided to go with natural treatment and was introduced to Natural Herbal Gardens natural organic MS Herbal formula, i had a total decline of symptoms with this treatment, the numbness, terrible back pains, stiffness, body weakness, double vision, depression and others has subsided. Visit Natural Herbal Gardens official website ww w. naturalherbalgardens . c o m This treatment is a breakthrough for all multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers, I am strong again!
  • Mary   Oct 6, 2018 7:55 AM
    I travel across the United States and have had perfect service most every time. I have flown Southwest and Delta. I have learned to speak up and be specific. The staff are not mind readers. Just let them know what you need and it happens. And do call the airline after you book to have you seating adjusted to meet your needs.
  • Allegra Rose   Oct 7, 2018 3:40 AM
    Hi, your information on the assistance at airport, was very interesting to read. My husband has M.S. been diagnosed since 2012, we love to travel, its a mine field out there. I am his carer, but also require help at the airport, is this only for the U.S. airports or anywhere. I have enquired at United, who we will travel with this next year, but no reply yet. Thanks, hope you can help, Keep smiling, and doing what you are doing.
  • Jason Schumm   Oct 7, 2018 5:57 PM
    I felt the same way, I was diagnosed with MS in 2000 at the age of 25 . I never really told anyone or talked about it then, now 4.5 years ago it really hit me. Now I am in a powerchair, my wife left me and so did everyone else. I was so embarrassed I was slowly losing all my abilities + everyone that I thought was going to be there for me the rest of my life. I have found out that my chair is a Godsend now.
  • Tracy   Oct 12, 2018 2:34 PM
    My experience with airport assistance was not all it should have been. My daughter flew out of Auckland NZ on a business trip to the US soon after being diagnosed with MS. I thought I was being helpful by arranging assistance for her but it had the opposite affect for my daughter. She was in tears from the treatment she received and this made her trip more stressful. On her arrival in the US there was no one there to meet her after being told there would be. I of course complained to the airline but all they did was pass the buck. It was not their fault......it was the other airline and visa-versa. Needless to say I don't think my daughter will ever ask for assistance again.
  • Nikki   Oct 23, 2018 9:10 AM
    Thank you for sharing this ! This has helped me to see clearer. I’m flying in two weeks and dread all the walking. It totally wears me out and sets me up for getting sick on a trip. Doing it! For the first time! Getting assistance for all that airport walking. Your right, no one really cares and it’s time to get over it! Thank you!
  • Dr. Millie Alford   Oct 23, 2018 1:18 PM
    My Daughter was diagnosed with MS when she was 21. She is 36 now and we travel often. Southwest Airlines is great at assistance. They are so kind and make every effort to get us from point A to point B with the least amount of hassle...Another Airline I would like to applaud is Air France/Delta. We recently traveled to Paris, and despite crazy weather, the pilot's seat not connecting properly (causing a cancellation of the flight) and a few other little "life" things, we had a superb flight experience. The assistance we received was phenomenal in every way. At one point of our travels, I was seated in a different section from my Daughter and Granddaughter, and the flight attendant checked on them for me several times, assuring me they were just fine. :) Those personal touches we received were so above and beyond anything we expected. I'm forever grateful to Air France/Delta for a wonderful flight experience. Their assistance blessed our trip, and added to our wonderful memories.
  • Bev Walsh   Oct 26, 2018 6:29 PM
    When we go to our travel agent to book our next holiday she has done so many for us and always organises a wheel chair to be waiting for me when we leave the plane the service I get is great. sometimes the is a short time between flights if we have a connecting trip that we get there with out delay twice the plane has been held up waiting for us to arrive.
  • Allen Fowlkes   Jan 18, 2019 4:38 PM
    I have Used wheelchair assistance at airports and it is wonderful! Not having to stand in line for security is now the way to go for me.
  • Dania Magee   Jan 18, 2019 4:47 PM
    Any where I go I have a big smile. I normally walk with a cane. That people stare at me; yes I do the same with a bigger smile and they ask if I had an accident. I inmediatly tell I have MS and it does not matter. We can still do, say and express any emotion with out the necesity of offending.
  • Vance   Jan 18, 2019 4:50 PM
    I used airport assistance for the first time in November. I have been a fool for not using it over the last 30 years. You are treated well by everyone and as was said in the article, I still had energy at my destination! Use it!
  • Mary   Jan 18, 2019 5:18 PM
    I felt the same way even at 60 years old but I must admit it makes traveling possible and so much easier. I use a wheelchair most of the time now. People are always willing and offer to help. When I think of all the years I struggled. I guess I amaslow learner I never knew that this service was available. I am glad you learned early your life will be so much easier and you won’t waste energy. Good luck to you. You helped a lot of people with your story. Thank you on behalf of all of them.
  • Betsy Bullen   Jan 18, 2019 7:16 PM
    I've been using airport assistance for a few years now and wouldn't travel without it. Everything about the experience is positive and look at how much money I'm saving:going from gate to gate you don't get a chance to linger (and spend money) in all the shops at the airport. Being first in line for customs and immigration isn't bad either.
  • Nancy Arnone   Jan 18, 2019 8:16 PM
    I have been traveling back and forth from Florida to Boston,Ma by myself for 13 YRS. I have MS for over 30 yrs. When I first started I was still able to do it by myself due to just was using a cane for balance. Over the yrs I needed more help because I was using a walker and had to use a wheelchair to get to and from gates.To this day I have had no problem with the airport workers helping me out. They take so care of the people there!!
  • Blanche   Jan 18, 2019 10:52 PM
    I thought it was just me, but this article is so relevant to my situation. I was diagnosed in the fall of 2017 at age 61 and I’m still figuring this thing out. Articles and comments like these are so helpful. Thank you!
  • Emma Bonacich   Jan 19, 2019 7:27 AM
    I too have had the (unfortunate) pleasure of using airport assistance. I now enjoy being wheelchaired past the crowds and occasionally wave at the children in strollers. Once you get past your ego, there is no going back.
    I also always give my wheelchair assistant a nice tip!!
  • Lynn   Jan 19, 2019 1:08 PM
    My sister and I were talking about going to visit my uncle in MN.....my sister advised that she thought it would be too difficult to Peterborough the airport....it was so strange to hear...do I walk that badly? (some days yes..others, not too bad(?). I am all for wheelchair assist, but I know I would feel strange, because I CAN walk, just not very well and definitely too slowly...I partly in the NJ muckfest (check it out of you are not familiar)..at first I was okay, but then my foot drop started and I was limping and falling and my boyfriend could really help me....(he is 20 years older than i, and though in great shape for his sge, he can't really "lug" me around...) We met up with a great group (their shirts said"don't muck with me" and this great buy, firefighter and EMT, helped me through the rest of the course!!!! My whole point is, I sometimes don't look disabled at all....like most of you there are okay days when walking is not too difficult, and bad days when I am walking with a weird jerky gait...such is life...I tried a cane, which was of absolutely no help at all..I will get strong feelings and people whom will think I am totally crazy, but it's almost like I want to cut to the chase....left just get to the wheelchair part...please die hard me or judge me for saying that, but having been a runner for 20 years, and now I can barely get around the block is like a cruel joke...running was my everything....I miss it so much I actually dream I am running....that sweet freedom and feeling when you are done...nothing like it!! Tried biking..no fun...I guess it's just that I dont talk about MS too often, so here is my diatribe......trying to keep hopeful and laugh about life, but it's hard...
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    Tracy-D-  Jan 21, 2019 3:32 PM
    This article resonates on multiple levels and I share your sentiments. One thing is for sure, I am in complete agreement with you "I will never go without assistance" as I've learned that it's OK to ride comfortably to the airplane...the looks certainly don't bother me as I like to keep people guessing - LOL!!
  • Laura Noble   Jan 24, 2019 1:57 PM
    I've read your blog on wheelchairs... very helpful to those who are newly diagnosed and to those who haven't quite come to terms with their diagnosis. I've been diagnosed with M.S, for 31 years now. I continue to discover ways that an M.S. diagnosis makes a difference in my life. It is only part of our life's journey.
  • Amy Grindstaff   Jan 31, 2019 6:13 AM
    Jess, thank you so much for what you have written here. It articulates SO WELL what it can feel like to be the person in a body with this disease. I'm glad that you own it now like I finally did, realizing that it's okay to take help when you need it. So what about those looky-loo people's opinions that actually don't matter? They don't know your situation or who YOU are (we are not the disease - we are US, plus MS). Have a wonderful day knowing you brought an important aspect of this thing to the masses!

    Sincerely,

    Amy Grindstaff
  • Kim   May 10, 2019 3:20 PM
    I've had MS for over 40 years and until three years ago I didn't use any help in airports. Boy, was I living in denial! Airport assistance has been WONDERFUL! Yes, I felt the same way you did, but when I got to my destination and felt good that's what sold me on it. I will NEVER fly without it again.