Despite of being a much practiced recreational activity worldwide, travelling 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, travelling is indeed a cumbersome task. The complications are multiplied 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 the scenic and cultural beauty across the globe. Several countries in Europe and other parts of the world, offer several facilities to the 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 the wheelchair travelers.
- Advance Booking is a Must
Planning in advance is considered to be the best practices before any task. Hence when travelling, 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 wheel chair as several airlines and travel companies let you choose the best packages and seats available. Ticket prices are also much cheaper if you make advance bookings. Similarly, one can also make advance 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 is provided on a first come, first serve basis. Advance 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 travellers as moving in and out of these chairs is much easier. You can also request for 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 prior to your flight. You can also request for an Aisle chair with the airport authorities to ease movement during the flight. Prior confirmation should also be made with the hotel authorities regarding the reservations and weather they are aware of your requirements. Depending on your accommodation, you can also request a transport to pick you 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, it is important that you instruct the airport staff to pick you up properly. Travelling is more of a personal experience than being a mere spectacle. Hence, do not be totally dependent on assistance for every meagre task and learn to help yourself. Although there are specialized staffs on 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.
- Arrive Early
The most important thing, after taking care of all the bookings and reservation along with careful packing of your essentials is to arrive at the airport before 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.