Thanks to my on-going remission (hooray!), I flew last week with only crutches, no wheelchair, and discovered that this made me a second class crip.
Mistake #1: not getting an airport wheelchair. Despite my abhorrence of being pushed, it would have saved a lot of walking and standing around wear and tear.
Mistake #2: not insisting on pre-boarding. Pre-boarding was not offered or announced on either of my flights, I assume because I was merely using crutches. I’ve occasionally missed pre-boarding while using a wheelchair, but at least with a wheelchair I get to sit while waiting in the huge slow line on the jetway. With crutches, I just get to suffer. So I’ve invented post-boarding – wait for everyone else to board, then amble on last. This works for me mostly because I take hardly anything on trips with me, so I’m not obsessed about good overhead bin space.
Being a second class crip also meant that no one gave a rat’s ass about how far back my seat was – usually when I get assigned 27F, the gate agent is quick to understand that it’s a long hard trip back there. On one of my flights, I asked if there was a better seat. The agent looked at my boarding pass and said, “It’s a window seat, what’s the problem?” I clarified that “better” meant “closer to the front”, so he graciously (ha!) reassigned me to 25F.
I spent most of the flight thinking about reasonable accomodation versus favorable treatment, and about whether previous flights had spoiled me.