I was flying to Florida in January, solo, I didn’t plan to check a bag and brought my carry on and If anything check it at the gate for free if they offered. I paid for priority boarding to make sure I could get on earlier to not only find a spot for my bag but to have more time to board as my left arm and leg are weak and numb still from my accident when I suffered stroke like symptoms. I also wanted to board earlier since I get overwhelmed easy and just wanted the process to go smooth. I paid like $25 each way for priority boarding, but it was worth it with my abilities.
I then I was flying home from Florida and they boarded people with disabilities and who needed more time getting on first and I was like, why don’t I do that?? I realized why. I have a disability, but you can’t see it. Traumatic Brain Injury is an invisible illness. I don’t think I ever have done it and I have flown multiple times since my accident, mainly because that makes me admit that I have a disability, it makes me own it, it makes me feel weird when people might look at me because I “look ok”. But really I meet the disability definition. I have one and I need the extra time and shouldn’t be paying $25 each way to get what I need.
So I did it! And I’m so glad I spoke up for myself and did. It was a game changer. No pressure. I wasn’t holding up the line, I was able to really take my time and make sure I was in the right seat, because on the way there I sat in the wrong seat! Numbers and me aren’t friends since my brain injury. I for now on will do what I need to do and board with people with disabilities.
Also, I had signed up for TSA pre check before I was injured, but then I got married and my last name changed, I never updated it. When flying with TBI, I find the long lines through security can really be daunting, taking my shoes off through security can be hard as my left side doesn’t have full feeling. I realized I had went through the TSA pre check process, background check and paid the money to do it. I didn’t know I did this until family was talking about it at Christmas and I was like I feel like I have it. So I searched my email box and sure enough found out I had done it. So I emailed them proof of my name change and in 2-3 months they will have it updated and I can start using TSA pre check which have less requirements going through security and a lot of times shorter lines which is so helpful for maintaining my energy and helping with the fact I can’t stand for long periods of time. I highly recommend going through the process is you suffer from a disability and also if you travel at least a few times a year or more. I’m having my husband do it now so we can both go through the same line:)
So the short story of my post is this. If you have a TBI or disability, even if invisible, own it and do what’s best for you and what you need. Don’t abuse it, don’t use it as an excuse but If you genuinely need accommodations, use them! Advocate for yourself.
My friend sent me this link when I was telling her about it, so awesome of her! Great link to read about TBI and traveling and your rights. I have no obligation to tell people like I did my last trip. I have no reason to prove it either. But just to have something on me and feel better about it and my condition, I need request a card stating I have a TBI and some common symptoms.
TBI Brain Injury ID card useful for accidents and more to identify yourself and best emergency contact. https://brainlaw.com/brain-injuries/card/
TIP Sheet for flights with TBI. https://www.miusa.org/resource/tipsheet/TBIflights