It’s 5:15 in the morning. I’m showered, shaved, and headed downstairs to meet my wheelchair taxi. It would make sense to check-out at the front desk of the hotel, but I never do.
Just this morning, I exited the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Orlando, Florida, saying nothing but “Good Morning” and “Have a nice day” to the staff. I did not check out.
The plan for the morning was simple: take a wheelchair taxi to the Greyhound station, then catch the 6:30 a.m. bus headed North. But, in a world where disability discrimination is rampant in the travel industry, no plan for accessible travel is ever as simple as it may seem.
You see, at 6:10 a.m., my taxi had not arrived. About 8 miles and 15 minutes from the bus station, I knew I was going to miss it. I called to cancel my taxi and expressed my displeasure to a supervisor at Mears Transportation (the taxi company). They are just one of hundreds of taxi cab companies in the United States that actively discriminate against wheelchair users. But, that is a story for another time.
By 6:15 a.m., I was off the phone and researching the next bus. It leaves at 11:45 a.m. and, because I had not checked-out of my hotel room, I now have a comfortable place to wait and opine about my experience as a victim of disability discrimination.
The lesson for travelers of all abilities is simple: don’t check-out of a hotel until you are sure that you will no longer need the room. I am grateful to be spending these next few hours lounging in a comfortable bed, rather than sitting in a noisy bus station. Do yourself a favor and check-out via the mobile app or with a call to the hotel once you’ve made it to the airport, train or bus station.
And, for those of you who are also upset by the unreliability (and unavailability) of wheelchair taxis, I will examine that problem in an article later this week.