Calspan, conducts the first crash test of wheelchair tie downs in history.
I am writing this article on my way to the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Policy and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss Accessible Air Travel with other advocates and Southwest Airlines. All Wheels Up has come a long way from our first grassroots efforts in 2011. If I was asked when we started if All Wheels Up would we be invited by the MDA to come join their advocacy efforts for Accessible Airplane Travel, I would have never believed it. Today we are working in informal coalitions with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal Association, and Easter Seals who have all taken on Accessible Travel as a platform in recent years.
In 2011, All Wheels Up came about because of one trip my family took to Chicago on an airplane. Simple for most families, but my son uses a wheelchair. What should have been an easy trip quickly became a struggle to get a severely physically disabled child into an airplane seat safely. As other families stared at us, I could only think how much safer it would be if he could just travel in his wheelchair.
Condor inaugural San Diego arrival – Photo: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Recently, I had the opportunity to take my first ever inaugural flight. Condor inaugurated twice-weekly service nonstop from Frankfurt to San Diego and they were kind enough to allow me to tag along. This was a special trip for me, as I rarely get the opportunity to fly internationally in anything but economy class, as more opulent flying is typically not in my budget.
Condor inaugural San Diego arrival
Inaugural celebration – Photos: San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Condor inaugural San Diego arrival
Not only was this a big deal for me, but this new connection to Europe is a big deal for the city of San Diego and the 3 million plus people in the metropolitan area. With the new flight, Condor becomes just the second nonstop connection to Europe, and first by a leisure airline.
Flying out of Tampa… a nice view in November!
For Thanksgiving I flew from Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) to Tampa (TPA) to visit my dad. Since he was letting me use some of his Southwest Airlines miles (thanks dad!) I ended up flying them to visit. Although I am a big fan of the company and people of Southwest, when it comes to flying them — they aren’t my first choice. The big reason is that there aren’t many places they fly to non-stop from Seattle (also no seat assignments, no power plugs, and no buy-on-board food). With my trip to Tampa I was lucky to only have only one stop – at Chicago’s Midway (MDW) – both times. I say lucky since I have had to do that trip multiples times with two stops, which is not fun at all.
File photo of the new interior – Photo: Southwest
Since this was a personal trip, I had no plan to do a story, but the last leg did me in. My final flight from MDW to SEA was on a Boeing 737-800. I was excited because this would be my first Southwest 737-800 flight — it also had the new Meridian seats from B/E Aerospace. However, I wasn’t quite sure if that was a bonus or a downfall. I have read (even here on AR) about the seats and have heard mostly bad things. But after four hours flying back home, I have come to a few conclusions.
Imagine someone took your iPhone and disabled LTE. Annoying. Then they shut off 4G. Super annoying. Then they took your remaining 3G connection and split it up between you and 160 of your closest friends. Welcome to the complicated world in-flight WiFi.
Hopefully live streaming content will be easier at 30,000 feet – Photo: AirlineReporter
In-flight WiFi quickly transitioned from a magical new technology that few people had any reason to use, to a near-ubiquitous amenity that passengers demand on every flight. A victim of its own success, in-flight WiFi is now often incredibly expensive and annoyingly slow. How did we get here, and what is being done about it?