Despite being a much-practiced recreational activity worldwide, traveling involves several frustrating moments. As one needs to book tickets, make reservations, pack all the necessary items, secure the luggage, and reach the transportation on time, traveling is indeed a cumbersome task. The complications are multiplied a thousandfold, especially when you’re a wheelchair user.
With the advancements in the tourism industry and the quality of hospitality in various countries and states, it is no longer a dream for the disabled to enjoy scenic and cultural beauty across the globe. Several countries in Europe and other parts of the world, offer several facilities to disabled travelers and have several wheelchair friendly tourist attractions. Nevertheless, there are still several challenges that a wheelchair user might have to face before stepping on an Airplane. Listed below are a few precautionary tips that might be of help to wheelchair travelers.
Advance Booking is a Must
Planning is considered to be the best practice before any task. Hence when traveling, it is a must to make all bookings in advance to avoid a last-minute hassle. This becomes even more important if you use a wheelchair as several airlines and travel companies let you choose the best packages and seats available. Ticket prices are also much cheaper if you make bookings. Similarly, one can also make bookings for hotels and know more about the facilities they offer to the various guests. Fold-up, manual wheelchairs can also be taken on board, but flights usually have room for only one and are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Bookings can help you avail various benefits and make travel much less stressful.
Choose Your Transport Wisely
Depending on the equipment you use, whether a wheelchair or a scooter, make sure you choose a vehicle that can easily accommodate both. You should also make prior inquiries with various flight operators regarding the facilities they offer for the disabled. Airplane seats with flip-up armrests should be the preferred choice for wheelchair travelers as moving in and out of these chairs is much easier. You can also request an airport wheelchair when boarding a flight if you’re unable to walk to the boarding aisle.
Confirm Before Leaving
Flight schedules tend to change depending on the weather and various other factors. Make sure you confirm your flight timings and booking confirmation before leaving for the airport. Also, make proper inquiries about your special requirements with the airport staff. Ensure that the airport personnel have a detailed list of your requests 48 hours before your flight. You can also request an Aisle chair from the airport authorities to ease movement during the flight. Prior confirmation should also be made with the hotel authorities regarding the reservations and whether they are aware of your requirements. Depending on your accommodation, you can also request transport to pick you up from the airport to the hotel.
Help The Staff To Help You
No matter what airline you choose, do not expect the airport or the on-flight staff to be fully trained to handle you. If you have a disability, you must instruct the airport staff to pick you up properly. Traveling is more of a personal experience than a mere spectacle. Hence, do not be dependent on assistance for every meager task, and learn to help yourself. Although there are specialized staffs in most modern airports with the necessary equipment to help the disabled, it is always better to not rely on assumptions and be ready to take charge if required.
The most important thing, after taking care of all the bookings and reservations along with careful packing of your essentials is to arrive at the airport on time. Arriving late at the airport adds several complications to the already explicit hustle and bustle at the airport. As you might be required to check in your wheelchair or scooter at the gate and you need to notify the staff to return it after the check-in. Arriving early not only saves you from any last-minute tussle with the airport staff but also provides you with ample time to safely board the airplane.
Electric wheelchairs and scooters are now available at various tourist places for the disabled and the elderly. So depending on the place you choose for your travel, you can also choose to avoid taking your bulky electric wheelchair or scooter and take a trusty manual, foldable wheelchair instead to travel with more ease.