Kevin & Rhonda Wixom
kwix at cox.net
Sun Aug 24 17:53:47 PDT 2003
Great email, thank you! I'm LAK and travel a lot. My exp is I always get
wanded and have never had to remove the prosthetic. Never. But, one guy
wanted the shoe off the prosthetic so he could run it through the machine so
I told him fine, you take it off and you put it back on and he did.
Frankly, these folks are not "bureaucrats"; they trying to do a job with a
lack of good tools. They use the traveler's attitude as a big an indicator
as anything they "see" on the x-ray machine. They are 10X better the people
doing the job 2 years ago. And, let's face it, we could pack a pound or two
of C4 in our prosthetics and no one would ever know. I think we're getting
You gotta take it all calmly and "moo" with the rest of the herd when you're
traveling. It's not fun for anyone these days.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Karen Robb" <oceanexplorer at uuplus.com>
To: "Amputee Information Network" <amp-l at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2003 4:22 PM
Subject: Re: travel
> Since I posted my brief note about travel, I have
> received a number of e mails and read many
> responses on the list. Such an outpouring of
> passion, philosophy and pathos! I am amazed at the
> emotion this subject engendered.
> I have studied the responses, both posted and
> emailed to me, and here present a summary, which
> may or may not be of help to my fellows.
> Like most, I have very strong political opinions
> about this whole area. As tempting as it is, I am
> not going to expresses those opinions here,
> because I want to concentrate on practical
> things. This, then, is what generally came out of
> the responses.
> There is indisputably an element of randomness to
> all this. Some people get lucky and others get
> bogged down. Alot depends on the mood of the
> bureaucrat who is doing the actual screening.
> Someone about go get off work and eat dinner has a
> different attitude than someone who has just had a
> fight with his wife, or has a stomachache. Some
> definite patterns do emerge, however.
> 1. People who have a chip on their shoulder are
> suspect. Dress well and conservatively. Show
> 2. The people who flew first class had a much
> easier time. Less hassle and more space
> 3. Amputees without any pros at all had an easy
> 4. The key question for those using pros seems to
> be "can you take it off"?. This issue came up in
> more e mails than any other one. Universally, the
> best answer is "no". If you say "no", they accept
> that, and run the wand over you and your pros. Of
> course, the wand goes off. Everyone expects it to.
> Then you go on thru. Those who say "yes"
> universally got felt hassled. Of course, if you
> say "yes" they want you to take it off, then they
> x ray the pros and you have to hobble thru the
> mental detector, which you probably set off anyway
> because of a pin in your leg bone, or your bra
> clasp or whatever. One man wrote that he took off
> a BK pros, then hopped thru the metal detector and
> the screener wanted him to undue his belt buckle
> because it set it off. He said he couldn't do
> that because he was using his hands to hold on to
> something so he didn't fall. Hassle ensued.
> Better just to say "no" it doesn't come off. This
> was the general theme.
> (I went thru many times with body powered DBE
> pros, each time saying that I couldn't remove
> them. I was always wanded, the hooks always caused
> the wand to go off, obviously, and that was that.)
> 5. Pros in carry on bags are very suspect. If you
> have to have a pros, wear it and don't take it
> off. No one will make you take it off. If it is
> in the carryon bag, you are going to get hassled.
> 6. Be innovative. Two people with cosmetic BE pros
> just took the pros off and put it on the conveyer
> belt with their luggage. One young man wears an
> arm pros, and repetitively flies home from his
> college. He bought another pros, and keeps one at
> home and one at school, and wears nothing when he
> flies. I realize this isn't for everyone but it's
> 7. Another person wrote that he used a AK pros at
> home and just used crutches when he traveled to
> avoid the hassle.
> 8. Wheelchairs trigger alarms. Officials are used
> to seeing old people in chairs, but when they see
> a younger person, they get worried. This was
> another universal theme. Avoid them if you can-
> i.e., walk... Among those who wrote to me who used
> a chair, there was the same universal experience
> with the "yes" or no" question. Can you walk
> without the chair?? If you say "yes", they are
> going to want you to go thru the metal detector,
> which you will set of, and then you will get
> hassled. If you say "no", they ask "not at all?"
> and you say "no", then the most they are supposed
> do is run the wand around. This was the
> experience of the people who wrote to me, others
> may have different experiences.
> One man wrote to me that he was a lawyer and had
> just finished arguing a case to a federal
> appellate court. He is DAK and in a chair. He was
> with his wife and kids, The screener looked past
> him and asked his wife ""can he walk"?" assuming
> that he was a moron because he was disabled. To
> the screener this person wasn't even human because
> he was in a chair
> 9. The screeners consider everyone guilty until
> you prove you are not. Many people mentioned that
> they felt that if they humanized themselves to the
> screener, they were hassled less. This means make
> eye contact and say something nice, rather than
> scowl and grumble. Take this for what it's worth,
> but several people mentioned it.
> 10. You cannot be pressed for time. If you are
> late for your flight, you get anxious and the
> screeners are trained to look for anxious people.
> The later you get, the more anxious you get. By
> the time your turn comes, you are very anxious and
> that triggers even more scrutiny. The relaxed
> people sail right thru. You gave have to be very
> very early. Figure at least 2 hours...
> 11. Stage yourself. Don't plan a long trip to
> the airport before a flight or a long drive after
> one. If you are more than half an hour from the
> airport, go the night before and stay at an
> airport motel. Otherwise, you are going to run
> late in the morning and appear anxious to the
> screener and the entire nightmare will begin.
> Always stay at a motel near the airport the night
> before if you can.. On the other end, don't try
> to drive 5 hours after a flight. Stay a night near
> the airport and go in the morning
> 12. Be contrarian. Get on the plane last if you
> can. Get off last. The people who get off first
> just get the most hassle and scrutiny at the
> customs line if they are clearing a border or have
> to wait for the luggage anyway. If you are
> disabled you are much better off getting off the
> plane at the end, and clearing customs at the end
> of the line.
> 13. Try to avoid checked baggage. Never check myo
> pros in luggage. Three e mails told of myo pros in
> checked bags causing departure delay. A plastic
> hand filled with wires and electronics is just too
> much for the bureaucrat to deal with, and if you
> are not right there to explain it (and to show
> your amputation), they go berserk. In carryon
> luggage, at least, you can explain that it is an
> artificial hand or leg or whatever.
> 14. Use a backpack for carryon. I know it looks
> juvenile but it seems much easier than lugging
> 15. Traveling internationally or from large city
> to small town, expect culture shock; expect delay;
> chill out. If you get stressed it makes you look
> anxious and then you get extra attention from
> customs and screeners. They don't know you are
> nervous because you are running late or you can't
> speak the language or you have Montezuma's Revenge
> . All they know is that you appear nervous.
> 16. Hydrate yourself very well. The low cabin
> pressures in the plane seems to cause PP.
> 17. Avoid alcohol.
> 18 Remember that the screeners and officials are
> all human and are all basically good people doing
> a hard job. Smile, think of them as humans not
> 19. Be flexible with your route. Four people wrote
> to say that smaller airports are much easier for
> people like us to use. Alot of times, by driving a
> hour or so or allowing an extra day, you can fly
> into a smaller airport, like Islip instead of
> LaGuardia or Daytona instead of Orlando.
> 20. Another repetitive theme was to pick travel
> times and days that were not as crowded. Contrary
> to what you might think, people who wrote said
> that you are less likely to be hassled at times
> with fewer people in the airport. Take a 7 am
> flight and you'll sail thru with a smile. by 10
> am, everyone will be scowling. Similarly, avoid
> peak times. One man wrote to say that on the
> Friday of Thanksgiving week last year, there was
> no hassle but people the day before and after had
> long lines. Also, several people mentioned that
> they traveled late at night- 1 AM and midnight
> departures, the "red eye flights"-- same
> reasoning: fewer people
> 21 I got several e mails from people who said that
> they had no problems at al, and several from
> people who were hassled greatly. I personally
> flew thru many counties and airports with almost
> no hassle. Yes, they make me take my shoes off. I
> use a back pack. I can't take off my pros. I get
> wanded. The one time that someone asked me to
> loosen a metal belt buckle, I started to do so
> with my hooks, slowly. Everyone else stared. They
> backed off.
> This has been a nonjudgmental list. All I have
> done is summarized that worked for other people.
> Some of these ideas make sense to me, others
> don't. Remember this is not representative
> The mere fact that a note like this has to be
> written memorializes a sad day in the history of
> our country. Jefferson must be alternatively
> weeping and spinning in his grave.
> Karen Robb
> DBE (at 23, now 28)
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