How to Make Flying With Physical Disabilities Less Stressful: A Fully Accessible Guide

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If you’re nervous or anxious about flying with a physical disability, it may not be as bad as you think!

Many airports and airlines have specific policies and procedures to improve accessibility and assist those who are traveling with a physical disability.  So if you combine their services with the perks from one of the best airline credit cards, you’ll be able to make your journey much more comfortable! Many of these cards have perks like airport lounge access and priority boarding which can make your flying experience much less stressful and more accessible.

For example, having access to an airport lounge through your credit card can provide you with a calmer atmosphere while you wait for your flight.  And priority boarding can help you board earlier and get settled into your seat before everyone else so you don’t feel rushed.  Miles and points can also make Business or First Class seats attainable for folks who need extra legroom, which comes in handy on a long flight!

With an airline card, you’ll save money by booking award flights with miles and points. 

Image of wheelchair user traveling through an airport terminal.
Flying With a Disability Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful!  Your Travel Can Be More Comfortable and Accessible If You Take Advantage of These Perks

I’ll share what to look out for when you going through the airport and boarding your flight.  And I’ll cover how perks on some of the best airline credit cards can enhance your entire flying experience.

Arriving at the Airport

In planning your arrival to the airport, you’ll be happy to know that the airline likely has procedures in place to help those flying with a physical disability.  You’ll be able to plan ahead because many airports list accessibility services on their website, such as handicap parking locations, wheelchair services, service animal relief areas, accessible restrooms, and more.

Depending on which airport you’ll be departing from, you may need to call ahead to reserve certain services.

We’ve listed the top 15 airports in the US along with some of their accessibility information:

AirportAccessible RestroomsPet Relief AreasHandicap ParkingWheelchair Service
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)Yes, all restrooms are accessible. Family restrooms are located near gates A6, B4, C7, D5, E5, E15 and Arrivals/Baggage area, Zones B and E.Service Animal/Pet Relief Areas are located inside the terminal (post-security) on the A/B Connector (near Checkpoint A) and on Concourse D between Coca-Cola 600 Cafe and Original Rum Bar and Grill. Areas are also located outside the terminal (pre-security) at the ends (west and east) on the Arrivals/Baggage Claim level.​​Handicap parking is available in all CLT lots and accessible shuttles run continuously. If assistance is needed, please call 704-359-4038. If you wish to park your vehicle and escort a disabled passenger into the terminal, it is recommended that you park in the Hourly Deck in front of the terminal. The first hour of parking in the Hourly Deck is free.Contact your airline prior to travel for wheelchairs, passenger loading lifts, personal assistance throughout a connection or escort assistance for minors.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)All restrooms located throughout the terminals are fully accessible to travelers with disabilities. Unisex toilet rooms equipped for the disabled are also available throughout the terminals and are located adjacent to the accessible men’s and women’s toilet rooms.Terminal D
Inside Security - Designated area located inside security at gate D18 (please note that for this location, you will not need to exit the terminal or re-enter through security)
Outside Security - Designated area located on the lower level, outside security at gates D15 and D2

Terminals A, B, C and E
Designated grassy areas located on the lower level outside security
• Terminal A: Gate A6, Gate A38
• Terminal B: Gate B5, Gate B39
• Terminal C: Gate C2, Gate C39
• Terminal E: Gate E2, Gate E38
Pets are required to be on a leash at all times when visiting DFW Airport. Additionally, if you will be traveling from DFW with your pet, please keep their pet carrier on hand.

Disabled permit parking is available in signed areas of all parking lots and garages. In the Terminal garages, disabled parking is on both the upper arrival and lower departures roadways. One-hour areas may be utilized for long-term parking as long as the vehicle displays a disabled parking tag or license plate. Due to TSA and height restrictions garages at some terminals are not van accessible.

Express and Remote lots are served by wheelchair accessible shuttle buses. DFW Airport Valet parking is also available at all terminals.
Wheelchair service is offered through your air carrier upon request. To ensure availability and timely service, it’s recommended that reservations be made in advance. However, wheelchair assistance may be requested at airline ticket counters.
Denver International Airport (DEN)Large, private Unisex/Family restrooms are located throughout Jeppesen Terminal and on each concourse.
All restrooms are handicap accessible.
Pet Relief Areas: Furry travelers at DEN now have their own private restrooms on each of DEN’s concourses, in addition to Jeppesen Terminal. The new indoor pet relief rooms provide service animals and pet-companions with a comfortable and welcoming area to take care of business before or after a flight. The pet relief rooms are conveniently located post-security in the centers of concourses A, B and C. Also, there is a pre-security, outdoor pet relief area, located just outside door 200 on the west side of the Jeppesen Terminal. All pet relief areas are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.Denver International Airport provides accessible parking spaces at all airport-owned parking facilities. In the East and West parking garages, these spaces are located next to entry doors into Jeppesen Terminal, on garage Levels 1, 2, 4 and 5 (no accessible parking is available on Level 3).

If using outlying parking options, such as economy or shuttle lots, accessible spaces are located near the pickup/dropoff shelters in the Economy West and Economy East parking lots, and at the Pikes Peak and Mt. Elbert Shuttle lots. All vans and buses serving these lots are lift-equipped. Wheelchair or electric cart service is available from your airline. For more information call (303) 342-4650.
Your airline can provide you with wheelchair or electric cart service
Request a wheelchair from the airline in advance or at the ticket counter
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)Airport restrooms are wheelchair accessible, and family restrooms that accommodate companion care are located throughout the airport.Service animals are welcome at the airport. Service animal relief areas can be found at the following locations:

Terminal A, west side near Hotel Shuttles and Parking Shuttles pick-up
Terminal B, south side near Limousines pick-up
Terminal C, inside (post-security), across from Gate C2
Terminal D, inside (post-security), across from Gate D6
Terminal D, southwest and southeast of terminal entrance
Terminal E, northwest and northeast of terminal (shared with Terminal D)
Accessible parking spaces are located on all levels at all airport-owned parking garages as well as at ecopark and ecopark2. Shuttles from ecopark locations to the airport that accommodate wheelchairs are available. Customers may call 1-281-233-1786 to inquire about accessible parking and shuttle service.Wheelchair service is provided by airlines for passengers and should be requested when booking travel.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)All restroom facilities are fully equipped for wheelchair access. Four sets of “Men/Women” restrooms are located on each concourse. One set is located at either end, and two sets are centrally located on each concourse. Two sets are in the Airport’s Domestic Terminal atrium, including one set in the arrival’s lobby. Additional restrooms are located at the International Terminal, with a set on both the departure and arrival levels.

Unisex family restrooms for those traveling with an attendant are located throughout the Airport:

Domestic terminal arrival’s lobby (2)
T2, T4, T8 and T12
A6 and A27
B9, B23 and B27
C15, C18 and C37
D4 and D32
F4, F6, F9, F12 Concourse F mezzanine level, departure level and arrival level
An adult changing table is located in the family bathroom at Concourse F departure level near French Meadow Cafe.
Hartsfield-Jackson welcomes its many guests, including those of the canine persuasion. To accommodate passenger pets and guide dogs, the Airport provides indoor Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs) located in every concourse near Gates T7, A10, B33, C19, E14, F7 as well as D-Midpoint.

In addition, there’s a 1,000-square-foot dog park in the Ground Transportation area on Domestic Terminal South, outside of doors W1 and W2. The fully fenced-in park offers biodegradable bags along with benches.

An additional pet relief area is located on the arrivals level of the International Terminal, right outside of door A1.
Parking for passengers with disabilities is available in all Airport parking areas. Once you enter the parking lot, just follow the signs to the designated parking spaces, which are closest to the Airport’s terminals.

Passengers with disabilities are encouraged to use the Airport “Park-Ride” facility, which offers convenient service to the domestic terminal. A free, wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus will pick up passengers at their vehicle and take them to curbside check-in.

Vans taller than 8 feet should park in “Park-Ride” lots. Upon returning to Hartsfield-Jackson, “Park-Ride” customers are picked up at the ground transportation area. “Park-Ride” parking rates are $1 per hour and $9 per day.

For additional information, contact ABM-Lanier-Hunt 24 hours a day at (404) 530-6725.
Airline representatives are available to provide wheelchair assistance. To reserve a wheelchair, contact the airline directly before your scheduled flight. Passengers with limited English proficiency should contact their airline for language assistance.

Due to partial closures on the North Terminal roadways, passengers who need wheelchair assistance for drop-off between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. should contact their airline’s wheelchair company at least five minutes before arriving at the Airport.

Prime Flight (Air Canada, Alaska, American, Contour, Spirit and Turkish) – 404-530-7049
Prospect (JetBlue, Southwest and United) – 404-209-0503
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)Each terminal has at least one wheelchair accessible restroom. If you need assistance locating one, just ask at the information booth located on the Arrivals Level in any of the terminals.Pet Relief Areas - All passenger terminals at the Port Authority’s airports provide these areas to conform with the federal Air Carrier Access Act, which mandates such areas for service animals who travel with air passengers. Signs featuring the international symbol for pet relief designate the areas.The terminals and parking lots at JFK are divided into five areas, each specified by a separate color. For your convenience, the parking lots nearest the terminal entrances have a limited number of spaces for travelers with disabilities. To park in the spaces, official license plates issued by a municipality or state of residence must be prominently displayed. Parking fees for these vehicles are equal to the lowest rate available at the airport.Contact your airline prior to travel for wheelchairs. If you’re traveling with a motorized wheelchair, please ask the airline when you purchase the ticket about their policies regarding battery-operated wheelchairs.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)Each terminal has at least one wheelchair accessible restroom.ANIMAL RELIEF STATIONS - Outdoors

LAX has three outdoor animal relief stations conveniently located around the central terminal area of the airport. The three stations are located outside on the lower level (arrivals). The outside relief stations are conveniently located at:

Relief Station - Outdoor
Between Terminals ONE and TWO
Between Terminals FIVE and SIX (Across the street in front of the parking structure.)
Relief Station - Outdoor

NOTE: Each Relief station has a box containing bags for easy disposal of waste. This relief area is located between parking structures 5 and 6, across the street from the terminals.
At the end of Terminal EIGHT
Relief Station - Outdoor Located directly across from the Los Angeles Police Department Sub Station.


One indoor animal relief station is currently installed at Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), and is located to the South (left) just before you enter the great hall, next to the bridge taking passengers to Terminal Four. Relief Station - Indoor
Pictured above, is the location of the animal relief area in the international terminal, which is next to the bridge to terminal four.

Below is a view of the animal relief area, which provides space for animals to stretch out and enjoy a bowl of water.

Relief Station - Indoor

ANIMAL RELIEF STATIONS - Inside other terminals

The airport is in the process of installing animal relief areas inside all terminals. Relief areas will be installed as part of terminal remodeling. Please click here to see the location of existing relief areas, and future sites.
All parking facilities have designated handicap parking stalls.Requesting a Wheelchair

To Request wheelchair service, it is recommended you contact your airline 72 hours in advance. Wheelchair service is provide free of charge by your airline. Tipping is not required for wheelchair service. Most individuals requesting wheelchair assistance are transported via wheelchair from ticketing to their aircraft. Airlines are required to provide curbside wheelchair service when requested. On your return flight, you should remind a flight attendant near the end of your flight, that you will need a wheelchair upon arrival.


Each airline is responsible for providing wheelchairs for their customers with disabilities, from curbside drop-off to the aircraft. Contact your airline's reservation desk a minimum of 72 hours prior to your flight to reserve wheelchair service. Wheelchair service is provided free of charge. Tipping is not required.

From Parking Structure

Airlines are not responsible for providing wheelchair service from parking structures to terminals.
McCarran International Airport (LAS)Unisex Family Restrooms are available for passengers with special needs; all restrooms throughout both terminals are equally accessible to each traveler.The airport has indoor post-security and outdoor designated enclosed areas where travelers flying with pets and service animals can take their animals to relieve themselves.

Indoor post-security locations:

Terminal 1 A/B/C Gates
Terminal 1 D Gates
Terminal 3
Outdoor Locations:

Terminal 1 Baggage Claim
Terminal 1 Ticketing
Terminal 3
All parking facilities have designated handicap vehicle stalls located in close proximity to elevators or shuttle stops.Wheelchair services are provided free of charge by Gateway, Prospect, and SAS Services. Arrangements for service should be made in advance through your airline of choice, but guests may dial 7874 on any white courtesy phone, or 702-261-7874 from any phone.
Miami International Airport (MIA)Restrooms located throughout the terminal feature toilet compartments for travelers with disabilities. Unisex restrooms equipped for the disabled are also available throughout the terminal. Look for the internationally recognized disabled symbol.MIA has outdoor and indoor animal relief areas located in Concourses D, E, F, G, and J. All of MIA relief areas are equipped with dual surfaces and waste disposal stations (map locations).
Designated disabled permit parking and stroller permit parking is conveniently located near the moving sidewalks on the 3rd level of the garages. Additional disabled permit parking, including van accessible spaces, are available on the easternmost ground level sections of the Dolphin and Flamingo garages.Wheelchair service is offered through your air carrier upon request. To ensure availability and timely service, it is strongly recommended that this service be reserved in advance. However, wheelchair assistance may also be requested at airline ticket counters.
Minneapolis-Sant Paul International Airport (MSP)Most restrooms at MSP have at least one accessible extra-wide stall equipped with side grab bars.

Companion care restrooms are located throughout both terminals. Consult a directory or information booth for the nearest location.
The MSP maintains pet and service animal relief areas at both terminals.

There are three Terminal 1-Lindbergh locations. Pre-security, the pet relief area is located outside Door 1 on the Baggage Claim Level. Follow the signs to your left. The area is fenced on three sides and has a woodchip base.

There are two other pet relief areas available inside the secure area of Terminal 1, located near the entrance to Concourse E in the Airport Mall and on the C/G connector bridge.

At Terminal 2-Humphrey travelers can use the grassy area just outside and to the right of Door 8 on Level 1 near baggage claim or the indoor pet relief area near Gate H11.

Passengers traveling with a service animal can request an escort from their airline or Travelers Assistance to the pet relief area.
Special needs parking is available on every level of the ramps at both terminal buildings.

Terminal 1 parking ramps accommodate vehicles up to 7 feet tall for both Daily and Hourly parking. Short-Term parking at Terminal 2 accommodates vehicles up to 8 feet 2 inches tall, while clearance at the Value ramps is 6 feet 10 inches.

Parking for people who have vehicles with disability license plates or a disability tag is available in the parking ramps near the entrances to the terminals. Ramp parking rates apply.

Valet parking at Terminal 1 accommodates vehicles up to 7 feet tall with disability permits, but cannot accommodate vehicles with a wheelchair lift.
Before you fly, calling your airline to arrange wheelchair services, oxygen requirements and other accommodations will help ensure a smooth experience at the airport. Most airlines have options through their reservations systems that allow travelers to identify specific needs.
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)All restrooms are wheelchair accessible.All passenger terminals at the Port Authority’s airports provide these areas to conform with the federal Air Carrier Access Act, which mandates such areas for service animals who travel with air passengers. Signs featuring the international symbol for pet relief designate the areas.The parking lots near the entrances of each terminal have a number of spaces designated for travelers with disabilities. To park in these spaces and receive the lowest parking rate, official license plates or permits issued by a municipality or state of residence must be prominently displayed.Contact your airline prior to travel for wheelchairs. If you’re traveling with a motorized wheelchair, please ask the airline when you purchase the ticket about their policies regarding battery-operated wheelchairs.
O'Hare International Airport (ORD)All restrooms located throughout the airport have wheelchair accessible facilities. In addition, there are Unisex / Family Companion Restrooms located in all terminals.

Terminal 1 - B14 (2), B10, C19(2), Baggage Claim (2)
Terminal 2 - Across from the Children's Museum (2), E5, Baggage Claim
Terminal 3 - G11, Rotunda, H14, H2, H5, H12 (2), K1 (2), L10, L21, L24 L5, Baggage Claim (2)
Terminal 5 - Near Security Checkpoint, Food Court Area
Service Animal Relief Areas (SARA) are located on the lower levels of Terminals 1, 2 and 5. These are outdoor, gated areas designated for service animal relief and are accessible at all times. There is also an indoor Service Animal Relief Area in the Terminal 3 Rotunda. All animals must be accompanied and leashed by the owner.

Terminal 1 - Take the elevator located between Door 1C and 1B to Baggage Claim (lower level), exit Door 1A. The SARA will be toward the left.

Terminal 2 - Take the elevator located between Door 2E and 2D to Baggage Claim (lower level), exit Door 2E. The SARA will be toward the right.

Terminal 3 Rotunda - Post security, in the Rotunda (between Terminal 2 & Terminal 3).

Terminal 5 - Take the elevator located between Door 5C and 5B to Baggage Claim (lower level), exit Door 5B. The SARA will be toward the left.
O'Hare offers 325 accessible parking spaces in its parking facilities. All spaces are located adjacent to elevator centers, sidewalks, bus stops and the Airport Transit System (ATS) platform in Economy Lot E. All accessible parking spaces are wide enough to allow for lift or ramp access, but not all provide sufficient height for traditional accessible vans. Below is a breakdown of the number of spaces and height restrictions for each lot.

Garage: Level 1 (17), Level 2 (18), Level 3 (18), Level 4 (19), Level 5 (17) Level 6 (19) // Height Restriction 6'6"
Lot B: 9 spaces // Height Restriction 9'
Lot C: 11 spaces // Height Restriction 8'5"
Lot D (International Lot): 18 spaces // Height Restriction - None
Lot E: 118 spaces // Main Entrance - Height Restriction 17' 2', Side Entrance - Temporarily Closed
Lot G: 39 spaces // Height Restriction - None
Lot H: 22 spaces // Height Restriction - None

All shuttle busses from the ATS Platform to the Remote Parking Lots are fully accessible.
For more information, please call the Parking Information Hotline at (773) 686-7530
Contact your airline prior to travel if you need wheelchair assistance
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)Each terminal has at least one family restroom with a private area to change clothing or disposable undergarments. Ask for directions at any information desk.Sky Harbor has nine areas for pets to stretch their legs, drink water and take potty breaks (mitts for cleaning up provided).

The Pet Patch is located just east of Terminal 2.
The Paw Pad in Terminal 3 - Level 1 is now located outside of the terminal on the West End. It is part of a new West Plaza area that provides an outdoor area featuring native Arizona plants and a pet relief area.
The Bone Yard is on the west side of Terminal 4 - Level 1 just outside of baggage claim.
There are also animal relief areas located near the PHX Sky Train® stations:

The East Economy Park & Bark is located near the East Economy parking garages.
The Park 'n Play is located on the northwest corner of the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station.
We also now have Animal Relief Areas post-security in all three terminals:

Terminal 2 on the lower level near the Family Restroom;
Terminal 3 on the concourse;
Terminal 4 in the D1-D8 gates concourse near the Family Restroom and in the B1-B14 gates concourse near the restrooms at Gate B2.
Accessible parking is available in all garages closest to the elevators. In the East Economy lot, accessible parking is available north of the PHX Sky Train Station. In the West Economy Park & Walk, accessible parking is available at the east end closest to Terminal 2.

If you need extra time at the curb, Airport staff on the curb may issue Special Needs permits.

Over height or oversize parking is available in the uncovered economy parking areas and Oversized Vehicle parking area east of Terminal 4.
Request a wheelchair when checking in and tell a flight attendant during the flight. If you are departing, you may request a wheelchair from a Sky Cap at the curb or from a Sky Cap or the airline on the ticketing level of the terminal. You can also request wheelchair service ahead of time when you book your tickets with your airline. Ask your airline about traveling with power chair batteries.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)Companion Care Restrooms for travelers needing companion assistance are located in all terminals, pre-security and post-security.Animal Relief Areas are available 24 hours a day. Painted paw-prints on the Arrivals Level terminal curbside walkways lead the way to outdoor locations in:

Terminal 1, Courtyard 2, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level
Terminal 1, Post-Security Boarding Area C, Near Gate 43
Terminal 2, Courtyard 3, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level
Terminal 3, Courtyard 4, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level
Terminal 3, Post-Security Boarding Area F at the entrance to Gates 80-90
All airport parking facilities have convenient parking for vehicles displaying a:

DP (Disabled Person) license plate
DV (Disabled Veteran) license plate
Disabled Parking placard
The Domestic Garage has standard parking at all levels. Van accessible parking is available through ParkVALET on Level 4 Departures near Terminal 1, Boarding Area C.

International Garages A and G have standard and van accessible parking at all levels.

In Long-Term Parking, accessible parking spaces for standard and van accessible vehicles are located on the first (ground) floor. SFO's Long-Term Parking shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible.
Travelers requiring wheelchair assistance are encouraged to advise their airline of their needs when making flight arrangements. Upon arriving at the airport, travelers with wheelchair or other special requests should approach an airline representative for assistance.

At Domestic Terminals 1, 2, and 3, airline staff can be approached at curbside and check-in areas. At the International Terminal, please proceed to your airline's assigned counter or dial 1-6210 from specially marked phones at all terminal entry doors.

Arrangements for assistance to and from other locations at SFO can be made with your airline.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)Restrooms are located on both the Ticketing and Baggage Claim levels of the Main Terminal as well as on concourses A, B, C, and D, and in the North and South Satellite.Outside Areas:

There are two areas outside the Main Terminal that are equipped to serve as "pet potties" for traveling animals. The two areas are located outside of Baggage Claim on both the north end. The north area is outside of door #26, just past Carousel 16. It is a small sandy area to the left under the stairs with plastic bags and a trash can.

Inside Areas:

All pets must be in their travel carriers when in the Main Terminal building. The only exception is training/service dogs and other specially trained pets assisting travelers with disabilities.
There are currently three pet relief areas in the secured section of the terminal. These units have pet waste bags, hand sanitizer, a paper towel dispenser and trash for proper disposal.

NORTH SATELLITE pet relief area is located on the STS level of the N Gates near the escalators
SOUTH SATELLITE pet relief area is located on the STS level of the S Gates near the escalators
CONCOURSE B pet relief area is located across from Hudson News, just before the Concourse B exit.
ADA-designated parking spaces are available in both General Parking on the fifth floor and in Terminal Direct Parking on the fourth floor. Vehicles properly displaying valid disabled permit identification may use these spaces.Sea-Tac Airport provides complimentary wheelchair service from Link Light Rail Station to check-in through Prospect Airport Services.

How To Arrange Wheelchair Service:

Contact Prospect Airport Services at 206-246-1550 prior to your arrival at the airport to make a reservation.
Exit train and take the elevator or escalator down to the lobby of the Link Light Rail Station.
Call Prospect Airport Services at to confirm your arrival. Prospect Airport Services staff will meet you in the station lobby. (Note: Follow signs towards the side of the station lobby leading to the parking garage and airport building.)
If you need assistance getting from the airline ticket counter through security and to your gate, please arrange this directly with your airline.
This service is provided at no charge, but gratuities are greatly appreciated.

From Your Ticket Counter to Your Departure Gate

Please contact your airline directly to make a reservation prior to your arrival at the airport.

From Your Arrival Gate to Baggage Claim

Please contact your airline directly to make a reservation prior to your arrival at the airport.

Wheelchair Rental

In addition to luggage carts, Smarte Carte offers wheelchair rentals from several locations on the Baggage Claim level. See our interactive map for help locating a rental station.

Not All Airports Are Created Equal

If you’re looking for an airport that make accessibility a priority, there are some that stand out above the rest based on reports from people in online forums.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has been said to be one of the most accessible airports in the world.  In addition to the usual services like service animal relief areas, wheelchair services, and accessible restrooms, the airport also provides:

  • Quiet room for prayer, meditation, or just a simple break from the fast-paced airport environment
  • PHX Sky Cart, an electric cart that transports you between terminals
  • Dial-A-Ride public service for seniors and people with disabilities daily from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • PHX Sky Train which provides a fully accessible connection between the airport terminals and Valley Metro Rail at the 44th Street station
  • Rental cars with hand controls with Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National
  • And much more!

Chicago O’Hare International

Chicago O’Hare International Airport also offers a plethora of services for folks traveling with physical disabilities.  It has the usual amenities like service animal relief areas and wheelchair services, as well as the following:

  • More than 300+ accessible parking spaces located near elevators, sidewalks, bus stops, and the Airport Transit System
  • Terminal transfer bus
  • Rental car companies located nearby with hand-controlled vehicles for persons with mobility impairments
  • Multiple public transportation services that are wheelchair accessible, including more than 300+ accessible taxicabs

San Francisco International

Many individuals online have also spoken very highly of San Francisco International, and it’s easy to see why!  For those traveling with physical disabilities, the airport offers many services to make your experience as smooth as possible:

  • Accessible parking services
  • Wheelchair accessible AirTrain
  • Ramps through public areas to allow for easy mobility
  • Companion care restrooms

But even if you won’t be flying out of one of these airports, most major airports will have accessibility services available to significantly enhance your travel experience!

If you have one of the best airline credit cards with premium travel perks, you’ll be able to make your airport experience much more enjoyable.  You’ll want to check to see which benefits your specific card offers:

  • Free checked bags – This perk can come in particularly handy and save you money if you need to carry medical equipment on your flight
  • TSA PreCheck – Speed through security checkpoints more quickly and easily with TSA PreCheck!  You won’t be required to remove shoes, liquids, belts, or light jackets.  And you won’t have to wait as long because TSA PreCheck lines are usually shorter than the regular lines
  • Airport lounge access – Have a quiet area to relax before your flight, away from the busy fast-paced environment of the airport!
  • Trip delay insurance – If you end up having to purchase additional supplies as a result of a delayed flight, you might be able to receive reimbursement for those costs!  You’ll just need to check with your specific card issuer’s terms and conditions to determine under what circumstances you’ll be eligible for reimbursement
Picture of an empty airport lounge, providing a quiet place to relax before your flight
You Can Make Use of Airport Lounges to Have a Quiet Place to Relax Before Your Flight

Boarding the Plane

AirlineWebsite URL
Alaska AirlinesAlaska Airlines Accessible Services - Wheelchairs
American AirlinesAmerican Airlines Special Assistance - Mobility and Medical Devices
DeltaDelta Special Needs FAQs
FrontierFrontier Special Services
Hawaiian AirlinesHawaiian Airlines Special Assistance - Q&A
JetBlueJetBlue Special Assistance - Wheelchairs
SouthwestSouthwest Unique Travel Needs - Customers With Disabilities
Spirit AirlinesSpirit Airlines - Traveling With Special Needs
United AirlinesUnited Airlines Special Needs - Disabilities

While every airline has slightly different policies and accommodations available, most of the major airlines listed above have written policies in place for what to expect when traveling with a wheelchair, portable oxygen concentrators, and other medical devices.

So if you’re trying to choose which airline, it’s best to focus on where you’ll have access to the most beneficial perks based on your elite status with a particular airline, or any benefits you may receive from certain airline credit cards.

And depending on your travel preferences, you may want to book non-stop flights when possible, because being able to avoid a situation with multiple connecting flights should make your overall flying experience much easier, even if it does end up being a little more expensive.

Although the most stressful part of the airport might be over now that you’ve passed security and are about to board your plane, credit card perks on one of the best airline credit cards can still be beneficial for you at this stage!

If you have priority boarding for instance, you’ll be able to board the airplane before the majority of other passengers, so you’ll have more time to get into your seat without the rush from everyone else.

Arriving at Your Destination

Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll likely have to wait for all other passengers to exit the plane first.  Depending on which airport you’ll be flying into, you may be able to rent a car with hand controls or other accessibility devices, although this may require an advance reservation.

If renting a car is not an option, there are a few other services that can take you from the airport to your hotel:

  • UberWAV wheelchair accessible vans
  • Lyft with accessible vehicle dispatch
  • Wheelchair accessible taxicabs
Picture of a wheelchair accessible van with a wheelchair ramp
Wheelchair Accessible Vans, Like UberWAV, Can Get You From the Airport to Your Final Destination!

Even after you’ve landed, there are still a few perks from your credit cards you may be able to take advantage of!

For instance, if you’ll be renting a car, you can check to see if your credit card offers primary rental insurance.  If it does, you can confidently waive the insurance coverage offered by the rental agency and be covered for damage due to theft or collision in most cases.

And if your luggage did not make it through, you may be able to file a claim through your credit card company with baggage delay coverage.

Bottom Line

Many airports have policies and procedures in place to assist those who are flying with a physical disability, so it’s not nearly as stressful as you may think!  Many of the major airline websites list information like handicap parking locations, service animal relief areas, wheelchair services, and more so that you won’t run into any surprises when you arrive at the airport.

And perks on some of the best airline credit cards can make your experience at the airport much more enjoyable.

Miles and points can also make it more affordable to book a Business or First Class tickets for more legroom, which can be great on a long flight.  Other perks like priority boarding can allow you to board the plane and get settled before everyone else so that you don’t feel rushed.

If you have traveled with a physical disability and found these perks helpful, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below!

Accessibility Notice

Our “How to Make Flying With Disabilities Less Stressful” was written and designed to meet the needs of our readers with disabilities.  This content was created for complete interpretation by all readers, including those who utilize voice assist and other assistive technologies.

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Andrew Wan is a contributor for Million Mile Secrets where he covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines and hotels. His work has also appeared in The Simple Dollar.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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