A Disability Pass Isn’t Worth The Disability

Southwest Airlines - Disabilities Preboarding

On Friday my husband and I surprised the kids with a day trip to Knott’s Berry Farm. My husband travels for work, so we put his frequent flyer miles to use and flew to California for the day. While picking up our pre-boarding pass at the Southwest Airlines gate in Phoenix, I noticed that the airline no longer uses the blue pre-boarding sleeve. The gate agent explained that people were selling the blue sleeves on eBay. How sad is that? I also overheard someone say that people that get to pre-board are lucky – I’m sorry, but a disability pass isn’t worth the disability one has to have to receive the privilege of boarding early.

We always make sure that we check in right at the 24-hour mark to ensure that we have low boarding numbers. We aren’t checking in late and avoiding a C boarding pass with a request to pre-board. My son has a legitimate disability and Southwest Airlines extends us the courtesy of boarding early. This makes the boarding process easier on everyone, not just my family.

When I was thinking about the fact that some unscrupulous people were selling pre-boarding sleeves, I was reminded about the stories that might have prompted the changes in Disney’s disability passes. I recall reading that some people were “hiring” individuals with disabilities to spend the day with them at Disneyland, so they could avoid the long lines.

We’ve visited Disneyland many times and that guest assistance card enabled the kids to hang out in the comfort of their strollers and then enjoy the rides like their typically developing peers. In some cases our wait was shorter and in other cases it was longer. It definitely wasn’t a front-of-the-line pass. We also heard the “they’re so lucky” comments, from adults and kids, and again I say the disability pass isn’t worth the disability. I’d rather wait in line than have to worry about seizures, seriously.

So next time you see a family pre-board on an airline or show a guest assistance card at a theme park, take a minute to appreciate what you have – a healthy family that doesn’t have to use these benefits to enjoy the day.

Photo: John Rogers/Flickr

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2014.