Disabled fliers can get some airline help

January 28, 2007|By San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

What are airlines' responsibilities to disabled passengers? How would a flier who uses a wheelchair, for example, use those tiny bathrooms?

Every airline's Web site outlines its policies regarding passengers in need of assistance. Some information can also be found on the airline's Conditions of Carriage, which is essentially the contract between you and your airline.

Each carrier attempts to ensure that passengers are accommodated by providing wheelchair assistance (on the ground and in the air); pre-boarding help; seats with removable armrests; and, on wide-body, twin-aisle aircraft, accessible restrooms for the disabled.

Flight attendants are permitted to assist passengers to and from restrooms, and can provide wheelchairs in flight, but, according to Department of Transportation guidelines, "are not required to provide assistance inside the lavatory."

For more information, go to dot.gov and click on "citizen services," then "accessibility."

My visa for a coming trip to Vietnam expires one day before I leave for home. Will this be a problem?

It's not likely. Cuong Nguyen, a Vietnamese Embassy spokesman in Washington, told us that departing one day after your visa expires is considered "no big deal." In fact, he said that anything from one to three days would not be a problem, and that, at worst, you might have to pay a "nominal" fine if you overstay your visit by several days.

If you're still concerned, Nguyen suggests you visit a travel office after you arrive in Vietnam. If they have a visa service, you can obtain an extension.

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