Created: November 08, 2020 10:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Traveling during the pandemic has undoubtedly been turbulent, but this time it wasn’t the virus that posed a roadblock for one traveler on his way to Roswell.
“A friend of mine once told me that travel — is the toy department of life,” said John Morris, founder of Wheelchair Travel.
One mile at a time, John Morris is traveling through the 50 states and countless countries across the globe despite a major accident that nearly took his life in 2012.
“How do you travel as a triple amputee is the primary question that I had,” Morris said.
Morris created a website specifically for people eager to travel with their wheelchair. His website breaks down travel tips by city and mode of transportation—pieces of advice he never imagined having to use himself during a trip to New Mexico in October.
“I planned to fly to Roswell, New Mexico, and I was denied the opportunity to fly. I was told that my wheelchair was now too heavy to fly,” he said.
That afternoon, airport agents cited a new policy limiting the weight of power wheelchairs to 300 lbs on some American Airlines aircrafts. The limit contradicts the Federal Air Carrier Access Act, which guarantees the transport of disabled passengers and their assistive devices. Similar policies are not in place at Delta, United and Southwest.
Over the weekend, American Airlines said they are trying to reverse that policy by working to roll back their weight limits. They said they want to do everything possible to make travel accessible for everyone.
“I'm encouraged a little bit that it sounds like they're trying to walk this back,” Morris said. “That this is changing the policy back to what it was before, which is no limit on the weight of a power wheelchair as long as it can fit into the cargo hold.”
American Airlines did issue Morris a refund for his unused ticket to Roswell.
Morris hopes his experiences doesn’t discourage other wheelchair users from traveling. His advice? Always call the airline with plenty of time to let them know your needs at the airport and during the journey.
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