1. Patients launch $1.27 million crowdfunding campaign for ME/CFS gut microbiome study.
    Check out the website, Facebook and Twitter. Join in donate and spread the word!
Dr. Kerr, I presume?
Clark Ellis brings us a rare interview with British researcher Dr. Jonathan Kerr who is now living in Colombia.
Discuss the article on the Forums.

Miami Airport -- Beyond Poor Treatment for the Disabled

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by SOC, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    Once again we traveled through Miami Airport and is was a miserable experience. It seems to get worse every time. I strongly recommend avoiding it if you need wheelchair assistance -- which many of us will because it is not a compact airport. Today our walk just from the boarding lounge to the airplane was more than 100 yds.

    Ft Lauderdale Airport is less than 40 miles from the INIM Kendall office and less than 20 miles from their Davie office. Next trip I'm going to insist on traveling through Ft Lauderdale Airport, even if it costs a bit more.

    Just to give you an idea of how bad it is:
    1. They wouldn't let us curbside check-in because we had a folding wheelchair to check.

    2. We were told we had to walk inside to the wheelchair corral (aka disabled person containment zone) to get wheelchair assistance.

    3. When we went inside to the nearest containment zone -- the one they directed us to and nearest the curbside check-in for our airline -- we were told that the corral for our airline was "down there", 50 yds farther and that we had to walk there ourselves with the luggage and personal wheelchair. No assistance allowed from the wheelchair assistants at this corral. Sheesh.

    4. When we got to the new corral, we weren't allowed in because we didn't have boarding passes because we weren't checked in yet (apparently wheelchair assistance for the checking in process is unavailable o_O) So we had to walk another 50 yds with all our stuff and stand in the check-in line.

    5. At the check-in counter they checked our luggage but were told we had to check our wheelchair somewhere else, another 25 yds farther down. No, no one at the check-in counter could take it down there. Yes, we told them we needed wheelchair assistance. They pointed us to the wheelchair corral. :rolleyes:

    6. We checked our wheelchair -- now we're 75-100 yds from the wheelchair corral -- and do our very slow keep-the-HR-under-AT walk back only to find that they've given us one correct boarding pass, but underneath it in the packet is a duplicate rather than a boarding pass for the second passenger. So only one of us can get in the handicapped prison area and the other person has to walk back to the check-in counter because they won't give us a wheelchair assistant to go back to the check-in counter.:mad:

    7. Now we're sitting the the wheelchair corral (aka disabled person prison), a circle of chairs with a guard at the entrance who takes your boarding pass. Now this is not a pleasant place. It's just a circle of chairs in the middle of the check-in area. It's not quiet, it's not comfortable, no way to put your feet up. There's no access to water or bathrooms or anything else for that matter. They (not you) decide when you get to go to your gate. Planned to stop for something to eat on the way to the gate? Too bad, nope, you sit in prison until it's "time for your flight" by their criteria. Need to go to the bathroom? Too bad, there's not a supply of wheelchairs and assistants there for that purpose -- just the guard. If you're lucky, an assistant sent there specifically for another passenger might take you on a quick bathroom tip if you beg and it won't make the other passenger late for their flight. It's demeaning, to say the least.

    8. Unlike at other airports where wheelchair assistants are helpful and polite, the wheelchair assistants at Miami Airport are indifferent at best. No asking if you need to stop at a restroom, for a drink or food, or any other courtesies. They treat you like luggage to be moved from one site to another. They'll stop, grudgingly, if you ask (and can get them to understand, which is another problem). There's minimal assistance/support at security, unlike at other airports.

    9. We were dumped at any old seat at the gate, with no guidance on how we were supposed to manage from there. Didn't look too bad, though, a short jetway, so manageable.

    10. Then they changed the gate. Are there wheelchair assistants around to help move the disabled passengers to the new gate? No. Is there staff at the counter you can ask to call for wheelchair assistance? No. There is one unattended wheelchair hidden behind the counter. The disabled passengers banded together and hijacked that wheelchair so that an able-bodied co-traveler can move those needing assistance to the new gate one at a time. :rolleyes:

    11. The elevator necessary to take wheelchairs down to the new gate is broken and cannot be called from the floor where we are. We have to wait until someone happens to come to our floor. I suppose Miami Airport doesn't care about this because people can just take the escalator right next to the elevator, right? :rolleyes:

    12. The new gate requires that passengers walk over 100 yds outside in the Miami heat from the boarding lounge to the plane. They do have one wheelchair and assistant, though, to take the (at least 4) passengers one at a time to the plane. To the plane. Not up the steep ramp from the ground to the plane. They don't want to do that. It's too hard. :rolleyes: Not so bad for daughter and I, although not something we liked after walking more in a couple hours than I have in years, so PEM is already guaranteed. But there was also an elderly woman walking with a cane and a young mother who clearly just had surgery and was carrying an infant trying to get up this steep ramp. No Miami Airport staff member cared in the least. And they expect a healthy tip.

    I've traveled with wheelchair assistance through a number of different airports and in every case except for Miami Airport, it has been very easy, pleasant, and comfortable. The staff has been kind, and even more helpful than I expected. In contrast, Miami Airport -- both coming in and going out -- has consistently been difficult, exhausting, and unnecessarily humiliating. The staff has been beyond rude, well into unkind, and even nasty.

    That's just the lowlights. The overall experience was even worse than this -- incredibly stressful and frustrating, exhausting, and humiliating. The attitude toward disabled passengers is difficult to describe well, but it's clear if you're experiencing it -- you're a second (or third) class citizen, who is nothing but a pain in the ass, demanding services you don't deserve because you're nothing but a lazy *&%$. You get the idea.

    I very strongly recommend that anyone who needs airport wheelchair assistance avoid Miami Airport at all costs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
    maryb, leela, Sushi and 2 others like this.
  2. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1 Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,061
    Likes:
    5,041
    Sth Australia
    Wow that is so shocking! Almost unbelivable that they can be getting away with treating people in wheelchairs like that. I hope you put in a proper written complaint on this.

    Ive had a couple of bad wheelchair experiences at airport (not that one)

    1. They forgot about me after putting me by myself in an area BY MYSELF to wait to be wheeled to the plane. I waited and waited .. I couldnt walk anywhere for help when noone came back and I was too sick to push myself (incapable of pushing the wheelchair more then a few metres, let alone trying to find someone), so I had to wait and wait.. (ended up laying on a bench closeby). I was then later informed that I'd missed the plane cause they forgot to get me and would have to catch another plane at a much later time! (I think its been both times Ive caught a plane with this illness, situations involving me has caused the planes to end up taking off late).

    I cant describe how upset I was about this.. they would of had of to get the police or end up calling an ambulance for me if they hadnt sorted this out. I would of certainly colllapsed and not been well enough to fly later that day at all if I had to wait, I was deteriorating just the waiting the first time and I waited most of that laying down). I had noone to come and get me from the airport (I'd been extremely lucky in arranging a ride there and help to the wheelchair bay, so would of been stranded there... it was such a nightmarish situation for them to have put me into.

    I was so upset over this (as I knew an ambulance would have to be called otherwise) and in the end they told the plane actually hadnt taken off yet and they'd just closed all the boarding doors etc so they ended reopening everything to allow me on the plane.

    2. Once on plane.. I was badly tremoring.. and almost having a seizure, so weak I was struggling to hold my head up.. I was a mess! (I cant remember if it was that occassion or other plane the other direction). I was informed only when already on the plane and it was about to take off, that I was being deemed too sick to fly and they werent going to let me fly without medical clearance from my doctor (so we got then into a situation where I was being asked to leave a plane and was refusing to do so. on this occassion I made the plane 20mins late for takeoff.

    They ended up getting me to sign all this paperwork saying if anything happened to me on the flight they werent responsible. I couldnt even sign it I was tremoring and spasming so much by this point.

    I will never due to my experiences (they were good thou with the wheelchair.. I got wheeled right to my seat and then the wheelchair was taken away, same when leaving the plane). I will NEVER fly alone as long as I have this illness as bad as I have. My airport issues thou were caused by airport concern of my health and just simply mistakes and at least not at all rudeness.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
  3. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    Maybe it's coincidence, but I've generally had better luck when I was traveling alone (with wheelchair assistance specified on the ticket). The staff seemed to have a greater sense of responsibility for my welfare. That might have just been the airports I was going through at the time, though.

    Part of the trick, I suspect, is not to try to look your best for the trip (they think you're lazy, not sick), but also not to look too sick, either. People will pass unfair judgments. I suspect that the fact that I was traveling on this trip with a reasonably healthy looking 22yo who needed wheelchair assistance was not helping our situation -- not that it's ever been anything but awful at Miami Airport.

    The world needs some awareness/sensitivity training about invisible illnesses. Medical personnel included.
     
    Tito, Sushi, rosie26 and 1 other person like this.
  4. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

    Messages:
    483
    Likes:
    792
    Utah
    Unconscionable. All the federal disability laws aside -- are they trying to make it so only the physically fit are allowed to travel? :confused: Seems that way.

    It truly is a problem, and not just at airports. So sorry you were treated this way, but very glad to hear most airports are not like that.
     
    SOC likes this.
  5. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

    Messages:
    7,068
    Likes:
    6,031
    Albuquerque
    @SOC

    It seems weird to "like" posts like yours but that is our only way of showing solidarity.

    I also use the wheelchair service when flying and have never had any thing like this happen. I often wear a neck brace too as the "landing bumps" can mess with my neck. But I've also noticed that the airport people see a neck brace and think that "there is really something wrong with you!" :ill:

    Sushi
     
    SOC likes this.
  6. lnester7

    lnester7 Seven

    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes:
    1,121
    USA
    Here is my experience, You have to specify wheel chair in advance so they plan for it. If you do not do it in advance is a nightmare. Some airports are not even worth the effort since their process is crap anyways.

    I wonder if you carry your car disability ticket if it helps in any way?
     
  7. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    I did specify a wheelchair in advance. I always do with air travel. I agree that helps at other airports but not in Miami.

    Do you have better luck Miami? If so, do you have any other tricks?
     
  8. lnester7

    lnester7 Seven

    Messages:
    1,243
    Likes:
    1,121
    USA
    [quote="SOC, post: 453623, member: 842"
    Do you have better luck Miami? If so, do you have any other tricks?[/quote]
    I have been lucky so far in that airport but I avoid the wheel chair because last time the girl pushing me was like 100 pounds and I felt soo bad (we don't look sick and all). I now put a lot of time in between flights and rest/lay a lot, but If I am in bad shape I do do it.
     
  9. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    I would be tempted to avoid the wheelchair, too, if I could find any way to do it without PEM. Walking more than 25 yds at slow normal pace or 100 yds at step-pause pace invariably puts me over my AT and PEM ensues. So walking Miami Airport is not a viable option. I really wish it were so I could avoid the hassle and humiliation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
    lnester7 likes this.
  10. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

    Messages:
    7,068
    Likes:
    6,031
    Albuquerque
    @SOC

    Some airports use electric carts instead of wheelchairs. I usually find them better. Brussels International was one of the best--electric cart all the way through immigration and customs, then wheelchair right to the taxi.

    Guess Miami didn't have electric carts. :(

    Sushi
     
    SOC likes this.
  11. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,413
    Likes:
    3,775
    Midwest USA
    I'm sorry, @SOC. That really sucks. I'm so irritated for you!
     
    SOC and peggy-sue like this.
  12. Iquitos

    Iquitos Senior Member

    Messages:
    374
    Likes:
    554
    Colorado
    In my experience, it's the airline that decides how you will be treated as a disabled passenger. My worst experiences have been with American Airlines, and yes -- in Miami, which is spread out like a small city.

    Sad to say, my best experiences have been with the smaller non-American airlines.
     
  13. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

    Messages:
    2,882
    Likes:
    2,012
    UK
    @SOC Well what a nightmare that sounds - oh I do hope I never have to use Miami airport, perhaps we could all do an e-mail if anyone can get an address??
    I can only say my experience at Manchester UK airport was outstanding, the woman wheelchair assistant took me to the check in desk she wouldn't let me walk, even though I said I may be able to manage it - she said 'get in' . We laughed afterwards, she was so caring and motherly, My husband took over once through check in and we went and had something to eat. We'd arranged that she came back to board me for the flight. Exceptional service.

    Now the service at Tenerife airport, not quite up to that standard but fair enough.
     
    SOC likes this.
  14. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    In most American airports, the wheelchair/disabled services are run by the airport, not the airline. However, I do think some airlines are better at making sure they communicate correctly with airport services.
     
  15. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    ARGH! There's no direct way to fly from an airport within a couple of hours of here to Ft Lauderdale Airport, so we're stuck with Miami. :cry:
     
  16. Desdinova

    Desdinova Senior Member

    Messages:
    275
    Likes:
    132
    USA
    Sounds like a ticking LAWSUIT waiting to happen.
     
  17. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,477
    Likes:
    1,732
    East Coast, USA
    Have you complained? http://www.miami-airport.com/disabled_passenger.asp There's information about filing grievances. You might end up with a personal contact, someone at the airport who will help you next time. I bet they have no idea how difficult it is for you.
     
    SOC likes this.
  18. SOC

    SOC Moderator and Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,361
    Likes:
    6,418
    USA
    Madie, you're a real blessing. :hug:
     
    madietodd likes this.

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page