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Wheelchair Travel Newsletter: Accessible Travel Conference and a Lifeline in Savannah
TravelAbility Summit celebrates 5-year anniversary, an airport comes through in a big way, and a favorite San Francisco hotel.
“I love those days when my only decision is window or aisle.”
I spent the weekend in Savannah, Georgia, host to the fourth edition of the TravelAbility Emerging Markets Summit — an annual conference which brings together accessible travel experts, destinations and businesses to promote best practices for accessibility and inclusion.
At this year’s summit, I moderated a panel on hotel accessibility, joined one to critique tourism board websites, debated whether disability belongs in corporate diversity and inclusion programs, and closed with a session on accessibility innovations in air travel. It was a busy weekend, but I was happy to join other accessibility nerds at what has long been my favorite conference of the year!
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Later today, I’ll start my journey to Portugal, where I’m eager to welcome a new group of Wheelchair Travel readers to what is truly one of my favorite European destinations. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be focused on providing an accessible tour experience that is second-to-none, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I write a bit less this week. I promise to share lots of photos and stories from our trip in my next email.
When I return from Portugal, I’ll be sitting down for an Accessible Travel Chat with my friend and TravelAbility founder Jake Steinman to discuss the 2023 event and the first-ever sellout in the summit’s 5-year history. Keep an eye on your inbox for a save the date, to be shared later.
Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport really saved my weekend…
The three earlier editions of the TravelAbility Summit have been held in San Francisco, Tampa and Orlando — three cities which have public transportation that connects the airport to the city, with San Francisco standing out as one of 20 U.S. Cities with a wheelchair accessible train from the airport to downtown.
Savannah is a small destination, doesn’t have public transportation to the airport, and there are no wheelchair taxis. I could very well have found myself stranded at the Savannah Airport this weekend, but the airport team stepped up to provide me and other conference attendees with accessible transportation.
Three months ago, I was told, the airport purchased a brand-new van with a wheelchair lift and securement space. It was my transportation lifeline last weekend, and I’m hoping that it will be made available to tourists with disabilities, not just those attending a conference. I hope to discuss accessible airport transportation with their team in the next few weeks.
Talk to you soon from Portugal,
P.S. I booked a window seat today on what looks like a very full flight from Philadelphia to Lisbon, so I’m hoping my row mates don’t get too upset when I call for the aisle chair to use the bathroom. Be sure to check out my article with photos of the slightly larger lavatories available on wide body aircraft.
Latest Accessible Travel Articles
Review: InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, Blending Timeless Design with Wheelchair Accessibility
Tale a look inside the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, a wheelchair accessible San Francisco hotel that blends a century of history with modern and accessible amenities in the city’s gorgeous Nob Hill neighborhood.
This Photo is Evidence That We Need to Revisit Wheelchair Taxi Regulations
In cities across the country (including in California, where I snapped this photo), wheelchair users desperately wait for accessible taxis — sometimes for hours. Here, I propose a new set of regulations to improve accessible taxi service.
If an airline drops your wheelchair, will they let you know? Based on this American Airlines example, probably not
Airlines frequently damage wheelchairs, but even when a power wheelchair is dropped, they can't be trusted to inform passengers. Read about my wild experience in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Reporting from the Foster v. United Airlines Trial
After a federal judge shot down multiple attempts to exclude eyewitness testimony, the parties reached a settlement agreement in less than 24 hours.
From the Archives (In Case You Missed It)
Bruges, Belgium Wheelchair Accessible Travel Guide
This picturesque city is known as the “Venice of the North” due to its winding canals and medieval architecture — and it’s more wheelchair-friendly than you might expect.
Check out these articles too:
6 Tools Airlines Can Use to Prevent Wheelchair Damage — Until a wheelchair space in the aircraft cabin becomes a reality, airlines can reduce the risk of damaging wheelchairs with these innovative tools.
Is it a bus or a plane? This unique American Airlines “flight” to Atlantic City allowed me to sit in my wheelchair — A unique partnership between American Airlines and The Landline Company brings wheelchair accessible multi-modal transportation to Philadelphia, and it’s surprisingly good — perhaps my best American Airlines flight ever.
7 Products to Make Your Home More Accessible — Most homes weren't designed with disabled people in mind, but these products will elevate the accessibility of your home or apartment.
What I’m reading on my flight to Portugal: My Kindle is fully charged and ready to go and, while I hope to sleep for the majority of my flight to Europe, I’m also hoping to get through a few chapters of a recently published biography, The Book of Charlie: Wisdom from the Remarkable American Life of a 109-Year-Old Man. Feel free to drop your book recommendations in the Substack comments.