Forum for Letters, Comments, Information & Anecdotes
FLYING WITH A DISABILITY
My longtime partner and I have always wanted to go to London. Unfortunately, an accident two years ago prevented us from visiting. While my partner is now wheelchair bound, we're not going to let it stop us. We're thinking about flying British Airways this April. How should we go about booking the ticket? Are there any special accommodations he will receive? Are there any specific procedures we need to follow before we board?
—Michael, San Diego, CA
Editor: This is a wonderful question Michael, and we're so glad your partner isn't letting his situation stop him from exploring the world. Many people assume that because a person is disabled it will inevitably restrict their opportunity to travel around the world.
It doesn't. Flying with a disability does require some adjustments, and the
airlines are more than equipped to accommodate your partner. British Airways (www.britishairways.com) will make sure that your trip runs smoothly. They, like most airlines, have a special section on their website with valuable information and a special customer service number for you (1-800-778-4838). Firstly, when booking your seat, indicate what kind of disability your partner has. Then, what kind of wheelchair he uses (standard wheelchair, battery- powered wheelchair, etc.). Collapsible chairs will be stored in the cabin, battery- powered chairs will be stored safely in with the baggage, and the airline will provide a staff member and a wheelchair to help board the aircraft. Also, for any flight with a length of more than five hours, a wheelchair will be available on board. Bathrooms are handicap ready for wheelchair-bound people on all Boeing 747 aircrafts, and the airline will provide a seat that best suits your needs. For general information about flying with disabilities, you can visit the Flying with Disabilities website (www.flying-with-disability.org).
TRAINING IN AMERICA
I was thinking about driving from Montréal to New York and maybe checking out some other cities along the way, but I am not a big fan of lengthy car trips. So, I was considering taking a train. With the US railway system, I don't even know where to begin. Is there a high-speed rail option, or am I going to be stuck on a slow-moving, uncomfortable rail car the whole time?
—Kimberly, Montréal, Canada
Editors: Unfortunately, the US is still lagging behind other countries in our train travel options, and we have yet to build a high-speed rail system. The only major option to consider in the Northeast is the Amtrak rail service (www.amtrak.com). This railway offers train service throughout the country, with the most advanced lines operating in the Northeast. Amtrak offers passenger service on 21,000 miles of track, connecting 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. Northeast routes serve several major cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Hartford, giving you plenty of East Coast destination options. You can even go farther south if you'd like, with trains running all the way down to North Carolina and even Florida. A train also runs directly between Montréal and New York, and many of the Northeast lines include free Wi-Fi. The best time to consider train travel is when you have an extended vacation opportunity, as the trip tends to be a bit slow. The advantage of that, however, is that you get to enjoy the best views of America's diverse countryside while not having to concentrate on a long drive. You may also want to keep yourself updated on train service news throughout the US, as some states, namely California, are in the process of developing high-speed rail service. These advances may just give you the opportunity to explore the West Coast, too. One of the biggest goals is to have an LA to San Francisco route that will take less than two hours and 40 minutes. Construction of these lines is expected to begin next year, and by the time the project is finished, it will include 800 miles of track and up to 24 stations.
ONLINE READERS REPLY
John from Austin, Texas has something to say about our Doing Business in Austin, Texas article in the October 2011 issue:
While I agree that a large part of the story is accurate, Austin is by no means a utopian oasis. Temperatures were in the 100s for three months this summer. The lakes are half dried up, and the downtown scene is still rampant with Republican college boys.
Our writer replies: We were there in the midst of the soaring temperatures, but we didn't let the heat ruin our time there. Extreme temperatures contribute to the area's local culture. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared for the Texas heat. Extra water and even a change of clothes (especially if you're doing business in Austin) are essential. The Republican college boys never bothered us; many of them were getting in on the fun at the clubs.
BGH from Bali has a few more LGBT venues to supplement Jimmy Im's October 2011 article Bali: Paradise or Trouble in Paradise?
As additional info for your readers, there are three other gay venues: Facebar (Jalan Dhyana Pura. Opening in spring), Bottoms Up (10 Jalan Caplak Tanduk. www.bottomsupseminyak.webs.com), and Club Cosmo (8 & 9 Jalan Dhyana Pura. www.clubcosmobali.com).
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