POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 24, 2012
QUESTION: I was told that you cannot request gate-to-gate cart transportation in advance. I'm in my 70s and have difficulty walking long distances, and I've had a couple of experiences where the airlines have not helped at all. Once, my first flight was late, so I had very little time to make my connection in another concourse in the Phoenix airport.
On the plane, I asked a flight attendant to call for a cart. She said she couldn't, but that I should ask the employee at the gate. There was no one at the gate and we didn't pass a cart at all as we walked to the other concourse. There were other passengers making the same connection who were older and frailer than I, too. The airline just kept paging all of us as we tried to run through the airport.
Also, I now use a cane. Will the Transportation Security Administration allow it on board?
ANSWER: I'm sorry you had such a hassle making your connection. But actually, you can (and should) request cart transportation in advance — as soon as you make your reservation, in fact.
Call your airline and tell the customer service representative that you will require a cart to take you from gate to gate when you change planes. You should also stop at the check-in counter (even if you're not checking bags) when you arrive at the airport so an agent there can confirm that the special-assistance request is noted on your reservation.
It's crazy that there was no one at the gate and no carts in sight, especially in a big airport like Phoenix's. However, if anything like this happens again, pick up a courtesy phone and tell the airport operator where you are and that you need a cart ASAP. Or stop at any other gate with a gate agent and ask for assistance. Also, I would email your airline and tell it what happened. If flight attendants can't request carts from the plane, the airline should definitely have an employee at the gate.
Regarding your cane, yes, you can take it on your flight. You will have to let TSA put it through the X-ray machine at the checkpoint, however.
Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at email@example.com.