Being restricted to a power wheelchair doesn’t equal restrictions in lifestyle and recreation. Airline travel is one of many activities that, with a little preparation, can be accomplished in spite of a mobility aid. Here is some advice to make airline travel with power chairs or mobility scooters go as smoothly as possible.
Before deciding on an airline to fly with, shop around for the best ticket prices and the airlines with the most accommodating policies for travelers in power chairs. Each airline should be able to tell the customer whether the weight of a particular model of electric scooter or wheelchair falls under the limits. Handicapped customers may also want to inquire about the accessibility of restrooms on the plane as bathrooms on many passenger jets are difficult for disabled persons to use.
Also, it is very important to know how to disconnect the power from the batteries when you get to the aircraft. Locate that cable and mark each half of the connector with yellow tape. Practice separating and reconnecting the connectors. This may keep them from pulling your batteries out of the chair.
When reserving airline tickets, handicapped buyers should tell their agent that they will be using a power wheelchair so that airline staff will be prepared to assist them when they get to the airport. Upon arrival, airline employees will be ready to quickly check the disabled person’s power wheelchair before helping them get seated on the plane. The airline may provide a folding wheelchair to help squeeze through the narrow airplane aisle.
Another reason handicapped customers should tell their ticket agent about their disability scooter is to account for the plane’s total weight limits. If one arrives for a flight without having arranged for a power wheelchair to be transported as well, flight attendants may be forced to refuse the disability scooter on the grounds that it would cause the plane to surpass its specified weight limit.
For maximum ease of access, disabled customers may want to purchase a first-class ticket if they can afford it and make it worth the investment. Some passengers in power chairs may find the extra space in business class more convenient.
To prevent damage when flying, attach disassemble/reassemble instructions to the power wheelchair as certain pieces may need to be taken apart for easier transportation. Also, provide a note for baggage handlers politely telling them to treat it carefully as your power wheelchair is essentially your legs. You can also take a picture of it before the flight so you’ll have proof of its pre-flight condition.
Assistance at Layovers
If one speaks to an airline ahead of time, it may be possible to arrange for employees experienced with power wheelchair users to offer assistance at any layovers on one’s itinerary. This is often valuable because, due to the size of many modern international airports, it can be difficult for individuals using power chairs to get from one gate to another distant one in time for a connecting flight.
Transportation at the Destination
To reduce stress as much as possible after arrival at the destination, passengers may wish to arrange transportation ahead of time. To save the most money, one may want to take advantage of public transportation if it is available. If taxis are an option, passengers can arrange ahead of time to have a convenient cab company pick them up so they don’t have to rush to their destination to find a taxi equipped for customers in power chairs. Finally, many companies offer specialized transport for disabled travelers, including disability scooter users.
Clearly, adult users of electric scooters and wheelchairs don\’t have any significant reason to forgo air travel. By taking these steps to prepare for a trip beforehand, any flight is sure to go smoothly from start to finish.