‘Riding Shotgun’ Reddit Series Rolls Into New Orleans

When last we posted about Zach Anner, it was to inform you that he and reddit had partnered up to launch an online series called “Riding Shotgun.” The premise is simple, albeit it a great example of next-gen multi-media. Zach, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, travels to various domestic destinations and participates in activities, all culled from and selected by vote by reddit users.

If this sounds warped, it’s only because that’s how Zach rolls (pun intended). He’s handsome, funny, charming, and by his own admission, has lousy luck with women. The latest episode takes place in New Orleans. Zach and his crew visit legendary restaurant Antoine’s, and then go honky-tonkin’ at Tulane University dive The Boot. Check it out, below.

Aircraft Boarding Challenges Bring Innovative Designs


Boarding commercial aircraft, from a traveler’s point of view, is all about getting to our seats, stowing gear and getting underway. We hope to have overhead bin space available, a reasonably comfortable seat and an on-time departure. Airlines are right there with us on the getting to our seats part and getting underway; they could not agree more. It’s a major issue so aircraft designers devote a lot of time and resources to making the whole process efficient.

Airlines want the boarding process to go as fast as it can for a couple big reasons. They want to stay on time, sure. But the less time they spend boarding passengers, the more flights they can fit in a day. As airlines cut back on the number of flights, choosing to insure full, profitable planes, they are constantly looking for ways to increase that efficiency.

One way might be slider seats that promise quicker boarding.Using the new Molon Labe Designs approach during boarding, the aisle seat slides on top of the middle seat, creating a 43-inch wide aisle. That gives boarding passengers much more room to navigate, stow gear and be seated. When boarding on each row is completed, the aisle seat then slides back into position.

The manufacturer promises they can cut loading time in half, adding up to 120 minutes flying time every day. Good news for airlines that could fly the same number of passengers with up to 15 percent fewer aircraft. But what about passengers?

“I’m not going to tell you it’s a comfortable seat,” Hank Scott, founder of the company said in a LA Times article. “It’s a quick, turn-around seat.” A prototype is due in November and the company has presented the idea to Boeing and Airbus.

Like it or not, aircraft seating is a huge topic to designers. The amount of time it takes to board passengers is on the table for discussion. To those with mobility issues, its also about the indignity and discrimination they face boarding aircraft.

Air Access is a concept designed by Priestmangoode that speeds up the boarding process for passengers with reduced mobility by enabling an easier transition from gate to aircraft. Air Access is a detachable wheelchair the passenger gets in at the departure gate or on the jet way. After seating, the passenger is wheeled onto the plane where the chair slides sideways and locks into the fixed-frame aisle seat without the passenger needing to get up.

On arrival, ground staff unlocks the seat, slide it out into the aisle and wheel the passenger to the jet way or arrival gate as we see in this video:

[Flickr photo by Slices of Life]

US Airways: no solo flights for the disabled

If US Airways is looking for a motivational speaker to help it inspire employees and improve customer service, I have one in mind. In fact, he knows US Airways well, including the service areas most in need of help.

Johnnie Tuitel tried to fly the carrier recently but was told he was too disabled to go it alone.

According to the Associated Press:

“I was raised to believe I could grow up doing what I wanted to do and it didn’t lead me to any entitlement,” Johnnie Tuitel, 47, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Saturday. “By them denying me the ability to fly, I couldn’t do my job.”

It’s not like this motivational speaker, who has cerebral palsy, isn’t accustomed to flying. He has logged 500,000 miles to give his speeches.

Tuitel actually made it onto the plane, which was going from West Palm Beach to Kansas City, when a gate agent took him and wheeled him back to the terminal.

The reason he was given was straightforward:

“He told me I could fly on U.S. Airways if I could find a companion to go with me because I was a danger to myself and others if something went wrong,” Tuitel told WZZM-TV. “Trust me, they made a mistake.”

Two days later, he flew alone, as usual.

US Airways is leaning on policy (shocking, right?):

“The airline requires that the passenger has to be physically able to assist himself or herself in the event of an emergency. If the passenger cannot, the airline requires that someone else travels with the passenger who can provide assistance in the event of an emergency,” she told the television station.

Ten best extreme wheelchair sports videos

It wasn’t until a close friend of mine wound up in a wheelchair that I took any notice of sports for quadriplegics. That’s when I realized the athletic feats accomplished by these wheelchair-bound competitors are truly astonishing. While I, and my perfectly capable limbs, stood on the side lines and cheered, my friend was out skydiving, skiing and even kayaking as a “quad.” Check out the ten best extreme wheelchair sports in this round up of videos.

Can’t Feel My Legs, Haha
Clay Egan is one of the best Rock Climbing drivers in the world. This inspirational man broke his neck in a motorcycle accident, but that never stopped him from participating in events that have him literally falling off of cliffs. After one wild fall, he remarked, “Man I can’t feel my legs!” Just a little quad humor.

North Pole Wheelchair Accessible
The North Pole is wheelchair-accessible? David Shannon proved that it is. He reached the summit on the 100 year anniversary of the first North Pole expedition. This video outlines the journey he took and the obstacles he encountered. Many able-bodied people try and fail, but this quadriplegic was a success.

Hang Ten, Baby. Quad Surfing
The Disabled Surfing Association of Australia allows Kelly McCann, a C2 quadriplegic to surf. She has no use of her arms or legs and needs constant breathing assistance, but can get on a board and experience the awesomeness of the ocean.

Yes, He Can
Gene Rodgers does it all in this video clip. Bungee jump? check. Ride an elephant, check. Parachute? check. This quadriplegic has done it all and his catchy little background song is by the blind musician Jeff Moyer. “Yes, I can”….and yes I will be singing this all day now.

Leave Your Disability at the Dock
Beautiful clip on sailing for quadriplegics. Control the sails and gain your freedom on the open sea. There is a man in this clip who gets to take his wife and service dog out for a sail. On land he is dependent. In the boat, he is in control.

Scuba Diving, Up Close and Personal
Dive right in. Regardless of your abilities, diving is a wonderful experience. The adaptations they have for quadriplegics like zip in wet suits and webbed gloves make it easier for anyone to give it a try.

Power soccer athletes doing their thing. Played indoors with a foot guard over the front of a power wheelchair. This sport allows individuals who are completely dependent on others for their day to day care to be competitive athletes. Fun video to watch!

Ride a Bike
All ages get together to ride hand cycles. These awesome pieces of machinery allow the wheelchair bound freedom on the streets. I loved seeing the little kids on the bikes. The clip mentions how the hand cycle gives them common ground with their family and friends. Going for a bike ride puts everyone on the same playing field, nice.

Sledge Hockey at the Paralympic Games
Exciting game! Check out these Canadians, nothing disabled about them. They came away with the GOLD.

King of Extreme Wheelchair Sports
We end this round-up of the 10 best quadriplegic extreme sports with the “King of Extreme,” Rugby. Wheelchair rugby, or Murderball, is brutal but thrilling to watch.

Flight attendant afraid of dogs, wants blind woman to move

Guide dogs that people who are blind use in order to have mobility and independence are not like any other dogs. First, they know how to take up very little space if needed. They also don’t bark. They don’t bite. They don’t run around. They stay close to the person they work for, ever ready to guide and help. Unfortunately one woman found a flight attendant on Delta who didn’t know this. The attendant wanted the blind woman moved out of the bulk head seat because she didn’t want to sit next to the dog. She was afraid of the dog.

According to the report in the Consumerist, the woman with the guide dog has flown thirty times with this particular guide dog and always requests bulkhead in order to have room for the dog to sit at her feet. According to the rules established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog is like a wheelchair so accommodations need to be made.

Sometimes requesting bulkhead works. Sometimes airlines are not helpful. Snafus happen, and then the snafus are worked out. In this case, the snafu was the flight attendant who also was sitting in a bulkhead seat. Because she is afraid of dogs, she wanted the woman moved to a regular coach seat.

See the problem? Have you ever had a hard time figuring out where you might even place your feet while sitting in a regular coach seat. Now imagine a Labrador, German Shepherd or Standard poodle at your feet. Maybe a foot rest for all three seats in the row if the other passengers AND the guide dog didn’t mind?

In the case of this woman, this guide dog and this flight attendant, a Complaint Resolution Officer was called in to help solve the problem. The resolution was that the flight attendant got a dose of dog therapy. The three shared the bulkhead with the flight attendant complaining all the while anytime it seemed that a hair on the dog was coming closer.

What I don’t understand is why the flight attendant didn’t move? Unless there were only heavy people, drunks and children on board, other pet peeves of travelers.

I have a friend with a guide dog who I have taken shopping. Most of the time I don’t even know that the dog is around and she sits at my friend’s feet in my car in transit. I have a Toyota Corolla.