Traveling With Disabilities To Hawaii

5 stars from 4 reviews
For passengers with special needs, here are a few thoughts to consider when planning your trip to paradise.

• General: Educational • General: Transportation

Full Description
"Trays in an upright position, seat belts fastened...welcome to the friendly skies of…"

These words jump started my adventure across the ocean to the Hawaiian Archipelago. My first travel experience to the Pacific Isles was not a success. I didn't do my homework, nor did I search for wisdom from veteran travelers. I assumed because I was a frequent international flyer, vacationing alone as a paraplegic with a large wheelchair would not be a problem.

Magical Thinking

There are extra considerations that a person with a disability needs to make to be comfortable on a plane. To deny special arrangements can mean an unhappy experience. What precautions can be taken for a safe and memorable journey?

Plan Ahead

Start planning months before for a trip to an unfamiliar location. Research on-line your carriers' best routes, terminal changes, and frequent layovers. Avoid the dreaded five to six hour layover sitting upright, far from a toilet, in a deserted “wait” area.

Before You Board

Check online for flight schedules, seat configuration, and arrival time. Airlines are typically good about helping passengers with special needs. Call and request to speak personally with an agent to work out the details to get you on board and seated with ease and comfort.

Restrooms, Ramps, And Weather

Read up on the internet for information about ADA compliance for public facilities, and transportation. The weather can be a consideration for your assistive devices. If you are on a tour, your transport will be arranged. Be sure the van has a lift or a ramp.

Finally On Board!

At check-in, your ticket will be flagged with your requests. Regardless of coach or first class, you will be boarded first assisted by the ground crew who whisks you down the jet way, out-running the hoards nipping at your heels. This is when you can finally settle down with the in-flight magazine, and mentally unwind with thoughts of exotic luaus, cross-cultural music and dance, and Mai Thais while watching stunning sunsets.

Well, Almost Finally!

Remember that Hawaii has five main islands and each airport has different facilities. Many carriers arrive in Honolulu on the island of Oahu where you may take an inter-island flight to your final destination. The arrangements and cautions already mentioned are still considerations.

The Big Island (Hawaii) promises many adaptive water and land activities, as well as accessible beaches and restaurants. For additional helpful details, look forward to articles on medical equipment, service animals, and local customs. A pleasant arrival and departure can make or break a perfect holiday.

Mahalo! Remember to pack T shirts, cotton shorts, and "slippas" to change into as you are greeted by the warm breezes of the islands.

Don't just look at the ocean, get wet.

Written By Jean Hartley
Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Brett D
Joined: Mar 2017
Reviews: 56
Likes Received: 1
Have been lucky not to have any disabilities while traveling but since I do travel a lot with my parents I know one day it might come to the point of having to adapt to changes in accommodations, etc. It is nice to know that more places are making these changes so it is easy for handicap and disabled ones to travel.
Vickey W
Joined: Mar 2017
Reviews: 123
Likes Received: 46
Thank you for all the informative information. As we are getting older we know someday this will come into play for us and do not want to give up traveling but learn how to adapt and these were helpful tips.
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 237
Likes Received: 33
My brother and sister both visited Hawaii after having an illness / surgery that made them walk with a cane. Everyone on all the islands were very helpful and never rude. Total strangers would open the doors for us and give us special seatings. The people at the Polynesian Cultural Center went out of their way for my brother this year. Hats off to them!
Linda T
Joined: Dec 2015
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
Wow! Great information for anyone traveling anywhere with a mobility impairment of any kind! Also for friends & family of such. The things we don't even think to think about! Thank you so much for this information. We need more writers like this. The Baby Boomer generation is getting to be the age where we all will need some assistance. Thank you Ms. Hartley & Accessible Hawaii for sharing your insights!
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