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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
Chrissy

My First Trip

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Hi everyone,

I was hoping to get some traveling advice. I am traveling to Florida next month. It will be my first plane trip since getting my prosthetic in Dec ’09 so I am not sure what to expect. Luckily, it is only a short 2hr plane ride to Florida from where I am. I am a left hip-disartic amp with a Helix Hip/C-Leg prosthetic.

I am traveling with my family and I was planning to take my leg along. However, my parents have been very vocal that they think I should leave it at home, and just crutch it for the trip as I am very proficient on crutches. They said we will be spending a lot of time at the beach during the day (where I wouldn’t be wearing my prosthetic anyway) and hopefully doing a lot of swimming. They think it would be too much aggravation for me to wear my leg and also have to take crutches along as well. I am a bit nervous about leaving my prosthetic in the hotel room during the day while I am at the beach. My parents also don’t want to deal with my prosthetic going through airport security and the problems we may encounter. Because I am a hip-disartic, my prosthetic straps around my waist so I wouldn’t be able to easily take it off to go through security. I am not sure what airport security will want to do with my type of prosthetic.

I would like to take my leg along just to have the experience of what it is like traveling with my prosthetic and become comfortable traveling with it. Just wanted to get some opinions and what I might face at the airport if I do decide to bring it along.

Thanks!

Chrissy

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The only question I can answer for is this: you do not have to take your prosthesis off to go thru airport security. Before I go thru the metal detector, I say I have a prosthetic leg, go thru and a female assist is called. You'll get patted down and swabbed and be on your way.

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I fly all the time with my prosthesis (LAK) I've never had any problems in America in fact I've only been asked to remove it once and that was in Hungary.

Your folks don't want you to take it because you're quicker on crutches. How do they ever expect you to become quicker on a prosthesis if you don't use it?

I understand your concerns about leaving your leg unattended but it's just as at risk in an empty house back home as it is in your hotel room. If you're really worried then leave the do not disturb sign up when you go out and nobody will be going in your room to see your prosthetic is there.

Obviously you gonna want to take your crutches too but make things easier for you at the airport and book a wheelchair transfer. In America this is really easy. A porter will meet you at check in, escort you and the rest of your party through security (bypassing the queue) and drop you off in the departure lounge. When your flight is ready for boarding they will come and get you and take you to the gate. You'll get priority boarding and when you land there'll be another porter waiting to escort you through the airport.

Honestly, by the time your family have experienced all the help you get they'll be taking you on every trip weather you like it or not. Like I said, I fly a lot, it's almost all for work and it's gotten to the point that I get chosen for some jobs because my clients know that they'll be able to get through airports quicker if I'm there.

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I don't think that you will get to "by pass" security in a wheelchair, but it can make things easier in a wheelchair if you have to switch flights or have a long way to go in an airport.

I have flown several times here in the US and I can tell you one thing that will make it a lot easier for you.. go to the tsa website http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm

about 2/3 rds of the way down and read about it.. That way, you will understand what is and isn't expected of you... It tells you what to expect. I have never had to remove a prosthesis. They do run a trace wand over it and my hands looking for traces of explosives, and then I am patted down. I also DO NOT take my shoes off. If you choose not to wear your prosthesis on your flight, that is your choice. I am a LBK and not being a hip disartic, I don't know how comfortable you would be.

As for leaving a prosthesis in a hotel room, I usually travel with my water leg, and it stays in the room when it isn't needed. I haven't had a problems with doing that. As Grum stated, you could put the do not disturb sign out, or call you hotel and ask them about safe keeping... (don't laugh) They always say that if you want your valuables safe, take them to the desk for safekeeping.. (Wonder what they would do if you brought your leg down?) I don't suppose that would be out of the question..

I would imagine that your parents are afraid of the unknown and don't know what to expect going through security... but you know what, they are going to want to x-ray those crutches too.... Why do they not want you to take your leg... To me, that is the most disturbing of all.. It is part of you.....

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I'm yet another BK, but there is no way I would want to travel without my prosthesis. I've only had a problem at a US airport ONCE...oddly enough, that was at the Atlanta airport on my way home from an Amputee Coalition of America function! I've often wondered if I just turned out to be "one amputee too many" for the staff there.......... :rolleyes: However, once I told them (firmly) that I was not going to take off my leg or my shoes and they should go ahead and do the "swab and pat-down" bit, they were quite cooperative. Every other time I've flown since my amputation, it's been a quick and courteous procedure.

In large airports, I do take advantage of wheelchair transfer services, and it does help. You don't actually "skip security," but you do get expedited to the head of the security line and passed through to the "swab-and-pat-down" area promptly. In smaller, local airports, I just do the whole security line business and tell the security agent when I arrive at the head of the line that I'm wearing a prosthesis and am going to trigger their metal detector...again, I'm just passed through to "swab-and-pat-land."

Like Higgy, I travel with my regular prosthesis and my water leg. I'm always leaving one leg or the other in my hotel room, and I've never encountered a problem with that. On one occasion, I went to a spa where I wanted to be able to wear my standard walking leg to hike in from the parking area, so I carried the water leg along in a bag. When I reached the changing facilities, the lockers were too small to hold my prosthesis...so, yes, I took it to the front desk and asked them to hold it there for me...and they did so with no problems at all. At the end of the day, I just reclaimed my "walking leg" and changed back into it. If it was so little trouble at the spa, I'm sure that a hotel has encountered "leg-sitting" requests before!

I really think it would be to your advantage to travel with your prosthesis, even if you do find yourself using crutches at times...the more situations you're able to use your "new leg" in, the more proficient you'll become with it.

Enjoy your trip!

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I didn't actually say you bypass security. I said you bypass the queue. Or in other words, you don't have to stand in a long line waiting for your turn, you get to use the express/priority lane or sometimes the airport staff lane (depending on the airport).

I've never quite understood this but if you show up in a wheelchair you get to use the security lane that means you don't have to sit and wait around but if you walk up to security you have to stand around for ages, which for some amps can be quite uncomfortable.

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I didn't actually say you bypass security. I said you bypass the queue. Or in other words, you don't have to stand in a long line waiting for your turn, you get to use the express/priority lane or sometimes the airport staff lane (depending on the airport).

I've never quite understood this but if you show up in a wheelchair you get to use the security lane that means you don't have to sit and wait around but if you walk up to security you have to stand around for ages, which for some amps can be quite uncomfortable.

I went back and re-read that Grum and I stand 'corrected'.

In a lot of the airports here, if you are wearing a leg, you also get "priority" and don't have to stand around and wait even if you aren't in a wheelchair..

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Hello Crissy:

Been a while since I posted here but I see a few people I have or remember.

I travel all the time. I am a BAK and wear two prots and travel alone. Most times I bring my chair along for various reasons. Some times I am using my little legs and some tips I wear my full set. It depends on where I am going. I have never been asked to remove my prots but all the hulaboo recently in the press, I will be more then happy to drop to the floor and strip them off if asked.

My personal opinion in your case (not that I know anything), is as follows:

I think you should at least take your prot. In time, hopefully it will become part of you. You are travelling with others so having them carry it shouldn't be a problem. Methinks that having it available once you get to where ever would be a benefit to you. When I am on holidays, sometimes I choose to wear legs and sometimes it is better if I do not but I like having the choice.

I am not sure how old you are as an amp so the following comments may or not be relevent to using or not using your prot on the way to your destination:

1)I fly a lot. Many of my trips have been quite long in duration (6.5 hours). It wasn't until last year, that I explored the possibilities of me using the washroom on the plane. I always prepared myself not to. So now, I know that I can in some circumstances and cannot in others.

2) One must be confident that one can handle the airport facilities also as such (in prot or out)

Just some thoughts.................but important ones if you do not think them through before you leave.

ED

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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who replied for all your helpful advise!

I just got back from my trip on Thursday night and I did end up taking my prosthetic along and very glad that I did. I had a very good experience. Everything went incredibly well on both the going and return flights. No problems or hassels at all. Both times they brought me to the front of the security line immediately. I was given a quick pat-down and my prosthetic swabed, then I was on my way. It didn't take more than five minutes and the TSA staff in both the Philly and Florida airports were very professional and efficent. The TSA person in Florida even commented to me "you have a really nice prosthetic!" I guess she has seen it all!

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Not sure if this is the place for my following comments.......at any rate here goes..............

Now I know the subject of "handicapped parking" passes has been addressed before on this forum. At times, it stil bothers me that the human race continues to abuse this system......................but now................the whole bodies have discovered ANOTHER "advantage" of being "buggered"....

On my last two trips I have noticed a marked increase in the number of greyheads now being wheeled ahead of the lines, preboarded and handled. They have discovered that if they simply ask for a chair, from their position, it is an advantage to them and they are taking it!! I se them get on the plane, walk around, function no problem and as far as I can see, they are good. I get sooooooooooooooo pissed at people who abuse any system.

I am a proponent of the entire "handicapped" system being revised. Take all the blue spots......paint them grey..............and allow anybody who is NOT a wheelchair user to continue to use these spots. Let THEM continue to get pissed off at each other.Just give the real chair users a specific spot ........just one .............at the end of the parking lot if necessary..........we can wheel!!!...........but we need the room to load and unload the chair. I often go "fishing" at the mall. I manage to get a blue zone spot............do my bussiness and then sit there a bit.........placard on my dash (ya, ya, I know "to be displayed while parked".................not hung on the mirror for all eternity while driving!!!!!) while I settle down and then wait for someone to yap off.......and then I let them have it!!

Now, I have an open mind. If a person uses even a walker of cane.......ok. If they limp..........ok. If they arre really elderly......ok. But if they are whole bodied..............not using a chair or walking aid............and they have the nerve to comment to me.............."excuse me young man but you are parking in the senior citizen's parking"...............I GET PISSED!!!

And now!!!!.....I'm starting to compete with them at the friggin' airport!!!......Let the wheelchair wars begin!!!..............I will win 'cause the greyheads just can't keep up with me!!

ED

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First off, so glad your trip went well Chrissy.

Ed ... know its a serious subject, but you made me laugh ... all so true .... loved your expressions 'the whole bodies' and 'greyheads' lol have the same problem here in the UK .... and there is much competition for parking disabled parking bays. Good luck at the airport.

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Hello Ann.............long time!!!!

So, here's another observation as to how times a re a changing.............cruise ships!!!!

I've been on several (13 so far).............started cruising while I was whole and continue since I've been modified.

You know, in the beginning, people used the stairs on these ships. It was part of the fun of getting to where you wanted to be and perhaps wear off some of that food!!

My last two trips have been a little different...........seems like everybody now uses the elevators. I've gotten used to it though..........I just ram myself into any elevator filled with grey whole bodies. I tired of politely waiting for an elevator only to find them "full". As well, often these same people ask about my legs and I answer that I think everybody should have a set (knowing and hoping that some of these people WILL for one reason or another!!)

I am heading out to the South Carribean on a 10 dayer this Sunday and will write my report on this trip whaen I get back.

ED

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You crack me up Eddie. I love your terms. Have a great trip. I'm jealous of your cruise. I'd love to be on another one right about now.

For those of you who've never met Ed, he is a plain speaker with that humorous flare. He definitely doesn't qualify as a whole body as he is missing both legs above the knee. He doesn't have much grey hair either as he really doesn't have much hair. LOL Sorry Ed, I had to tell.

You can tell by his posts that he doesn't let the loss of his legs slow him down. I don't think I have the energy Ed has. It will be great to visit with him in Kansas City in June.

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Hello Ann.............long time!!!!

So, here's another observation as to how times a re a changing.............cruise ships!!!!

I've been on several (13 so far).............started cruising while I was whole and continue since I've been modified.

You know, in the beginning, people used the stairs on these ships. It was part of the fun of getting to where you wanted to be and perhaps wear off some of that food!!

My last two trips have been a little different...........seems like everybody now uses the elevators. I've gotten used to it though..........I just ram myself into any elevator filled with grey whole bodies. I tired of politely waiting for an elevator only to find them "full". As well, often these same people ask about my legs and I answer that I think everybody should have a set (knowing and hoping that some of these people WILL for one reason or another!!)

I am heading out to the South Carribean on a 10 dayer this Sunday and will write my report on this trip whaen I get back.

ED

Love it Ed., have a great trip ... sounds like you are doing a good job educating the grey whole bodies ... like you say its likely some of them might be needing arty legs in the future, and if that be the case, I am sure they will remember you and not worry quite so much about it. Look forward to reading your report on the trip.

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Hey Neal............

I have, once again, been without my C leg units for a long time. Now I have new ones so I've decided that I AM taking them for function on the cruise ship. I can think of no other facility on earth that would be best for me other than this cruise ship.

Stairs..carpet........tile.......wet floors...............every hallway (1000's) have rails etc. Once I gat the layout of the ship and recouperated from the inital bar, I will be in legs...........no cane..............if it KILLLS me.

Other than that...........CU in Kansas City......smoking area...............two(2) beers ..............STAT!!!!!

ED

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Hey Neal............

I have, once again, been without my C leg units for a long time. Now I have new ones so I've decided that I AM taking them for function on the cruise ship. I can think of no other facility on earth that would be best for me other than this cruise ship.

Stairs..carpet........tile.......wet floors...............every hallway (1000's) have rails etc. Once I gat the layout of the ship and recouperated from the inital bar, I will be in legs...........no cane..............if it KILLLS me.

Other than that...........CU in Kansas City......smoking area...............two(2) beers ..............STAT!!!!!

ED

Be careful Ed. You might be at the mercy of those gray-haired, whole-bodied people to help pick you up from the floor. LOL

See you there!!!!!!!!!

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Chrissy, I'm glad your trip went well. I think you'll find with time that you just roll with it all.

I've been traveling a fair bit since my amputation in '07 both here in the states and a little overseas. I can't imagine doing it without the leg. When I was first getting used to things I carried a cane, pre-boarded and did priority screening (as well as parking in the handicap spots! :biggrin: ). Now I just move on through like the regular folks. I guess in the interest of full disclosure I don't walk as fast and stand on the moving walkways. Heck, if I see one of the guys with the electric cart and I'm going to the other end of the terminal I'll hitch a ride all things very new to me since the amputation. I also loosen the leg or pop the leg off for the longer flights (keeping it in the pant leg) once the plane is in the air although since I'm BK that's pretty easy.

For the screening I don't bother taking off shoes of course, and sometimes gently play with TSA. When they tell me to take the shoes off I just politely say "no." .........And then once I see them get a little agitated I'll then tell them I have a prosthetic leg which tends to disarm them at that point. They frequently verify my gender but they generally seem far more embarrassed about things than I am....although for those more intrusive pat downs I'd prefer I could select the agent I'm going to be so intimate with even if so briefly. :wink:

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