Dear Editor,

I just bought tickets for a trip to St. Maarten in February for my husband and myself on TWA from JFK. I called the airline about seating and was told that I have to wait until Nov. 11 to book seats. My husband is disabled–7 back surgeries, hip replacement, cervical, shoulder and knee surgeries as well as 3 types of arthritis. A bulk head seat is of the utmost importance. I was told that when I called on Nov. 11 they would book us seats but not the bulk head–those seats are not issued until the day of the flight and on a first come first served basis. We have been on flights before and have seen the bulk heads issued to families with children and people with obviously less disabilities while my husband has been crammed into a regular seat and has had to stand a portion of the flight . Any suggestions as to how this seating arrangement can be made more fair to the really disabled? We always travel with medical documentation.

Thanks, Carolyn Vierling

Unfortunately, different airlines handle this differently, though day of seating for bulkhead isn’t uncommon. The best way to approach this situation, based on what TWA has told you, is to arrive at the airport VERY early on the date of your flight. Explain the situation both to the agent at check-in and at the gate. They should give you the bulkhead with no problem, seeing that you are first to request it. If they pull a “it’s already assigned,” you’ll need to cause a scene, but don’t accept no for an answer.

Two asides: First, make sure your flight isn’t on a 757, as the bulkhead is an emergency exit row and therefore off limits to disabled passengers. Second, on the plus side, TWA is known to upgrade disabled passengers to first class if space is available!