Flying with chronic illness or other special needs

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If you or a loved one has a chronic illness or other special needs, flying can be especially challenging. Here is a simple way to make it less of an ordeal: Be picky about the seats you book!

Picking a seat that reduces the burden on an area that’s already problematic can go a long ways towards making the flight more bearable. This can make a huge difference in making the trip a success overall.

Bulk row seating

Sitting by the bulkhead is extremely popular because there is more legroom and there are no passengers sitting in front of you. It’s generally less cramped and less hassle. These seats are usually fed first as well.

Aisle seating

You have little more room in an aisle seat and it’s easier to get in and out for trips to the restroom. Plus you get to leave before everyone else when the plane lands. But you also have to dodge traffic a bit while seated. This is a deal breaker for some people.

Window seating

If you want to nap and don’t need to go to the bathroom overly much, a window seat may be the best choice. You don’t have a bunch of strangers passing by and impinging on your space and you don’t have to get up to let other people out. Plus you can keep yourself entertained by looking out the window. Most people still find this cool, no matter their age.

Near the emergency exit

These seats have more leg room, so some passengers are happy to pay extra for the privilege. But most airlines will not allow small children or physically disabled individuals to book these seats because you will have to help other passengers exit should there be an emergency. If you book these seats, you may want to dress a bit warmer or bring a blanket. They tend to be chilly.

By the galley

Although this puts you close to snacks and drinks, it’s probably better to pack your own and book other seats. The galley is a high traffic area and can be both smelly and germy. These are not good things if you have health issues or sensory issues.

Close to the restrooms

It may seem like a good idea if you need to potty a lot, but it’s a noisy, high traffic area that is inherently germy. Unless you are at very high risk of having an accident, these are the least desirable seats on the entire plane. For most people with special needs, you should actively avoid being too close to the bathrooms.

The very worst seats

Most people hate both the last row and middle seats. The last row is near the bathrooms and/or galley and the seats do not recline. Middle seats are cramped and you deal with total strangers far too much. If you have a choice, it’s usually best to skip these seats.