Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Passes and Discounts

At OPC, we strive to provide our patients with the tools that they need to achieve their personal best. Whether it be running a marathon or being able to run to the grocery store after a long day at work, we are confident in our ability to craft the correct prosthetic for the job.

The ultimate goal for our patients is to minimize the effect of the disability on their daily life. In reality, all amputees have a "bad day" where they are sidelined by pain, sores or prosthetic issues. With spring finally in full bloom and people coming out of hibernation, we wanted to take this opportunity to convey a few courtesies that are afforded to individuals living with a disability (including limb loss) within our local community.

Flying can be an exercise in frustration. Between long lines at the ticket counter to the snaking line to get cleared through TSA, travelers spend a lot of time waiting. Many major airports, including BWI and Dulles, have become more responsive to the needs of passengers with disabilities by creating special lines for TSA. The lines are reserved for individuals with disabilities and their travel companions and for passengers traveling with small children.

Having an amputation is a qualifier if you are flying on Southwest Airlines. Because seats are not assigned, passengers are grouped by number for boarding. A stampede often ensues, especially on a sold out plane, as passengers vie for a better spot in line. Those at the back of the line are often stuck in the worst seats.

As soon as you reach the gate, immediately locate a Southwest employee to request the "blue card." This designation permits pre-boarding access for the travel party. This courtesy provides the opportunity to pick the best seats possible to accommodate the prosthetic, avoiding the back of the plane or the cramped middle seat.

At many major theme parks, amputees qualify for preferential access for rides. Check with customer service as soon as you enter the park to gain the proper identification. Avoiding the 90 minute wait in the herd of hot, grumpy and sometimes odoriferous visitors is a definite advantage!

Some local theme parks and zoos offer reduced admission prices for disabled patrons. For example, Six Flags parks offer half price admission for those with disabilities. Check on-line or at the ticket counter to investigate discount admission options.

If you enjoy visiting national parks, including Sky Line Drive, it may be advantageous to complete the application for an access pass. Disabled individuals, including active amputees, qualify for the "America the Beautiful Access Pass" which allows for free entrance into every national park. Discounts are also available for various park amenities. Check here for more details.

Traveling using the Metro or train system? Discounted fares are offered for individuals with disabilities. Check with the ticket agent to learn about the specific discounts for the trip.

Have you found other courtesies offered to individuals with disabilities? Feel free to leave a comment to share your discoveries!

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