If you use an electric wheelchair to get around, you might think that your recreation and travel options are very limited. While this is somewhat true, you probably have more freedom and flexibility than you realize. The key to travelling by air with an electric wheelchair is good planning. So, can you take an electric wheelchair on a plane?
In this article, we will share some smart advice to help you enjoy smooth, adapted travel. Read on to learn more.
Prepare with good planning
Begin your planning by shopping around for the best ticket prices and the most sensible accommodations for people with disabilities. Be sure to ask airline representatives about any size or weight restrictions when it comes to loading and transporting your chair as cargo.
Be up front with your ticket agent about your circumstances and abilities and any assistance or special consideration you may need. When you are completely transparent and forthcoming, you can reasonably expect the airline to have everything ready for you when you arrive.
If you wait until flight time to let them know what you need, it will only cause confusion and delays. Furthermore, if the airline personnel have not made arrangements to transport a scooter or an electric wheelchair, you are likely to be refused even if you do have reservations.
If you must change planes, arrange for airline personnel to help you get from one plane to the other. Likewise, if there is a long layover, check to see if an airline employee might assist you in getting from gate-to-gate, getting refreshments and taking care of any other necessary tasks at the connecting airport. If it seems that this is not possible, make arrangements for an attendant to accompany you.
If you have a service animal, tell your ticket agent about any special arrangements that will need to be made to accommodate it. Note that if you have a very oddball or very large service animal (e.g. a peacock or a pony) you may be refused.
Remember to pack as light as possible, dress simply and be patient with draconian search procedures at boarding. Avoid having any unnecessary accessories and do-dads on your chair as this will just give security one more thing to take apart and examine.
Protect your chair by making your own preparations
Once you have located a good, accessible airline with reasonable ticket prices, prepare yourself for your trip. Start out by ascertaining how to quickly and easily disconnect your batteries when you transfer from your own wheelchair to the “aisle chair“ provided by the airline.
There should be a cable and connector which must be separated to disconnect the power. Even if you are able to do this yourself, be sure to mark these parts clearly with colorful tape so that they will be quick and easy to find. If you are able to disconnect power quickly and easily, you may be able to keep your batteries with your wheelchair. This greatly reduces the chance of your expensive battery getting lost, damaged or even stolen.
Put a copy of your owner’s manual in a large, Ziploc bag and attach it to your chair so that handlers can refer to it if they need to remove some parts for easy storage. This will also help them put things together correctly when you arrive at your destination.
If you have a chance to talk with the baggage handlers, schmooze with them a little bit and let them know that your wheelchair is essential to you. Connecting with them may help insure a bit of TLC for your valuable chair.
Call ahead regarding on-the-ground transportation
Once you have arrived at the airport, you will need to get to your lodgings or other destination Check out local accessible transport options well in advance so that you will be ready for any eventuality.
Some airport shuttles are lift equipped, and this is a great option for getting from the airport to your ultimate destination. Some taxi services also have lift-equipped mini-vans. Do some research to determine whether accessible local public transportation is available. Network with local services for people with disabilities to find out if there are any independent living organizations that also offer transportation services.
Air travel is never trouble free
In this day and age, all travelers should take steps to be well-prepared for air travel. This is even more true when you present special considerations that may require extra personnel. When you take the time to research and make your plans early, you can avoid a lot of hassle. Follow the tips presented here for the easiest and most pleasant airport and flight experience with your power wheelchair possible.