From Where I Sit

How has traveling with a wheelchair impacted you? Share your story to help bring awareness to the problem of inaccessible air travel.

I use a big motorized wheelchair that’s driven with a custom lip-controlled joystick. I used to fly, but my wheelchair got damaged too many times. Once, I remember, it came out looking like a pretzel and took months to repair. I learned to always locate a good wheelchair repair place in my destination city in advance! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more disabled. I now have a tracheostomy and colostomy. So for me, being transferred into an airplane seat is more dangerous than ever. When my daughter graduated from college in Minneapolis last year–a college I had never seen, because I live in Los Angeles–my wife and I loaded up the van and drove the whole 4,000 mile round-trip. It took many more days and cost hundreds of dollars more than flying would have, but it was our only choice. My greatest sadness now is that when my 94-year-old father dies, I will be unable to attend his funeral in Maryland in person. But if I could travel by plane in my wheelchair—as I do on buses and in trains–I would surely see family more and maybe finally get to see the many wonderful places that are farther than a car ride away.

Ben M.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Age 59