Disabled While Buying Concert Tickets

I’ll be honest – I have a little bit of an agenda in writing this post! I’d appreciate so much if you could share it and help spread the word.

I’m a big concert person – I love going to hear live music. There’s just something so magical about hearing music in person, surrounded by a crowd of people who are just as excited to be there as you are. What is less magical, however, is the ticket-buying process for concerts if you use a wheelchair, other mobility device, or are disabled. Since tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras tour go on sale this week, this is something at the very tippy top of my mind, so I thought I’d share a little bit about what it’s like for me to try to get tickets.

Accessible Seats are Limited

So the hardest part about trying to get accessible seats for concerts is that there just aren’t that many accessible seats, full stop! Huge concerts like Taylor Swift’s are held at equally huge arenas, where the stadium-style seating is already set. And there’s usually one row of mobility accessible seats at the top of each of the sections, which is such a small fraction of seats compared to the rest of the non-accessible seats. (These seats are always at the top of the section, farthest away, never at the bottom, which is a whole other issue!) And you have to remember that these seats aren’t just for people who use wheelchairs or mobility devices… they’re also for “companions,” aka the friends or family I’m seeing the concert with. So there just aren’t enough accessible seats, ever.

Pre-sale Accessible Seats are Even MORE Limited

When you add in the pre-sale component, the number of accessible seats available get even more limited… exponentially so. I have never been able to get a venue to tell me how many wheelchair accessible seats are made available in a pre-sale (versus how many are held for the general sale), but I remain convinced it’s about…. 20. TOTAL. For the whole venue. Because no matter what I do – no matter what pre-sale code I use, or how close to 10 AM I sign on – I’m almost never able to get a wheelchair accessible ticket. This is when I fire off the first of many e-mails / tweets to Ticketmaster, which I’ll get to in a minute.

There’s No Separate Link or Phone Number for Accessible Tickets

So even though there are way less seats available for me to choose from, when I want to buy tickets, I go to the same link that everyone else does… and they go to the same link that I do. For shows like Taylor’s, that means I’ll be sitting in a virtual queue waiting my turn for an extremely limited number of tickets, while nothing is stopping non-disabled people from scooping up the accessible tickets before I even get a chance to try to buy them. Because accessible seating is sold on the honor system! It’s illegal to ask someone what disability they have that requires accessible seating (and that part doesn’t bother me at all). If there was at least a separate link for accessible seats, it’d be less likely that they’d get taken by people who don’t need them.

Ticketmaster Puts Extra Limits on Accessible Seats

So let’s say, somehow, I make it to the point where I can add tickets to my cart to check out. And I’m a 34-year-old woman with friends, so I’m planning a Taylor Swift concert night out with my sister, who also uses a wheelchair, and two of our friends. NOPE! Because even though the max placed by Ticketmaster is six tickets per order, that’s only for non-mobility accessible tickets. For accessible tickets, it’s typically THREE. So my sister and I have to check out separately, and just… cross our fingers that we can sit together?! I’ve even tried to call Ticketmaster so that the phone representative can help us and place one ticket order, and even they can’t override the limit! It’s like Ticketmaster forgets that disabled people have friends and family, too.

Ticketmaster Help is… Unhelpful

I mentioned above that the very moment I run into an ordering issue, I e-mail and tweet Ticketmaster. To their credit, they do always get back to me… eventually. But the problem is that eventually doesn’t cut it! Because by the time eventually rolls around, tickets are already gone. And there’s no way to just make more seats magically appear. And often, even when they do get back to me in time, they have no helpful information or action. They can’t tell me how many accessible seats were made available in a pre-sale. They can’t tell me why there are no wheelchair accessible seats on the floor. They can’t override accessible ticket limits. This is, of course, nothing against the representatives I speak to, but about the policies and procedures that govern accessible seating in general.

I know I’m calling out Ticketmaster here – but it’s because I want them to be held accountable, and to change their policies! I don’t want to place blame, I want to see change. And if there’s any artist who has the clout to work with them to make it happen, it’s Taylor. So this post is my plea – to Taylor, to Ticketmaster, to anyone who can help pass this along.

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