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5 easy ways you can be an ally to disabled travelers

Oct. 02, 2021
6 min read
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If you are an “able-bodied” traveler, there are many things that you can do to help improve travel for those of us with disabilities. After all, it could also be of tremendous value to you in the future. Anyone, at any time, can join the disability community, so by making the world more inclusive now, you can help future generations as well.

Did you know that approximately one in four people have a disability? By encouraging destinations to be inclusive of all travelers and speaking up if accessibility is limited in a tourist site, you are not only potentially helping yourself for the future, but you are also helping your extended family, friends, and everyone in general.

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Below is a list of ways you can be the best ally to disabled travelers. As a wheelchair user myself, I thank you for taking the time to read this article and taking the actions below.

Support legislation that improves accessibility

The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination by air carriers against individuals with disabilities. The ACAA has provided regulations for 35 years, but it is in need of an update. Currently, the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act is trying to be passed in congress. It would strengthen enforcement of the ACAA, require airlines to meet accessibility standards, and most importantly, improve the safety of air travel for passengers with disabilities. You can ask your members of Congress to support this bill by filling out this simple form online.

The airline industry is very aware of the rights of disabled passengers, but as stressors arise in the airport, there may be times that fairness is overlooked. If you are on a plane or in an airport and see someone in a wheelchair being treated unfairly, remind the airline of the ACAA.

Support organizations that are working to make travel more accessible

All Wheels Up, for example, is an incredible organization that is pushing for wheelchair users to be able to remain in their wheelchair during flight.

Currently, the wheelchair is stowed beneath the plane and the wheelchair user has to be transferred from their wheelchair into a small “aisle chair” and then again transferred into the plane seat. This makes the flight very uncomfortable, as most wheelchairs are custom-fitted. The wheelchairs also are often damaged during flight (an average of 29 wheelchairs are damaged per day on flights), which not only causes the wheelchair user days, weeks, or even months of discomfort and immobility, but also costs the airline millions of dollars every year in repairs.

Related: A day in the life: What it’s like to travel through an airport and on a plane as a wheelchair user

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By donating to organizations like All Wheels Up, travelers of all abilities will one day be able to enjoy flying without the stress of being manhandled by the airline crew members or having a wheelchair damaged. Every dollar that is donated to All Wheels Up goes toward improving the air travel process for wheelchair users.

Speak up when you see inaccessibility while traveling

You’ve probably heard the phrase “When you see something, say something," right? Well, this is one of the best and easiest things that you, as an able-bodied traveler, can do to help improve accessibility in the destinations you visit.

For example, if you are walking up stairs into a restaurant, ask a worker if there is another entrance for wheelchair users. You may get them thinking about accessibility for the first time just by asking that simple question. They may have never even thought about this scenario before. Often, the workers will even say, “Well, we never have customers in wheelchairs here, so we really do not need a ramp," but remind them that wheelchair users may have tried to visit, but cannot due to the inaccessibility.

Related: These are the most wheelchair-accessible cities around the world

By speaking up about accessibility in a kind manner, you could be the reason why a restaurant, shop, or attraction becomes accessible.

Share accessibility insights online

When writing about your travel experiences post-trip, whether on TripAdvisor, Yelp, your own social media pages, or somewhere else on the internet, always include info on accessibility of the location you’re writing about.

Accessible travel information is often extremely difficult to find online, but even if you just put one sentence saying that whatever attraction you visited had a ramp to enter, that could be a huge help. You don’t have to go into full accessibility detail, but any bit of information is super helpful.

Related: Planning an accessible trip? These travel resources can help.

The more accessibility information that we can make available online, the easier trips will be to plan in the future and the more mainstream accessibility will become.

Use accessible travel companies to plan your own trips

Use accessible travel booking platforms like Handiscover to book hotel rooms or use accessibility-focused tour companies to help support them. Sure, sites like Handiscover do specialize in accessibility, but they also allow you to book standard rooms.

Likewise, many companies that offer accessible tours also offer tours for non-disabled travelers. However, the opposite is not usually true. By supporting tour companies and booking platforms that cater to all travelers instead of spending your hard-earned money on discriminatory companies, this puts more money in the pockets of inclusive companies and therefore, they will be able to provide better accessible features to accommodate wheelchair users.

Related: 10 wheelchair-accessible tour companies that are changing the travel industry

As you can see, there are multiple ways that you can be an ally for disabled travelers and none of the above scenarios take away from your own travel experiences. They are just helping to improve travel for people of all abilities. By being an ally, you will not only improve the lives of others, but it could also improve your outlook on travel and enable you to have a more fulfilling trip.

Photo by Carlo Prearo/EyeEm/Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023