HOW TO FLY WITH A WHEELCHAIR
Consider this scenario: you want to travel into this amazing destination but can’t do anything without your wheelchair. Now you may be wondering if flying with a wheelchair is even possible. Well, let me tell you, it is.
Of course, I’m not saying it will be easy but it’s not impossible. You will need to get some information, and to plan every step, in order to be prepared for everything. Here are some tips to help you make your next adventure less difficult.
Personal vs airport wheelchair
When traveling, you can choose if you want to bring your personal wheelchair or use the free one at the airport. Most airports have a free wheelchair you can borrow if you need it. But you need to address the fact that you are going to need the it outside the airport as well therefore in my opinion, the airport wheelchair option is ideal for elderly travelers who can walk but have some mobility issues. If you are in a wheelchair all the time, you are going to need to bring your own when traveling. Still, if you choose to borrow a wheelchair, check with your airline to see if you can reserve one in advance to save time. Reserve wheelchairs for the departure airport, any layover airports and the destination airport going both directions.
You might need to consider to check if your flight offers level-entry boarding. While most airports do, some of them doesn’t offer it so it’s best to check ahead of time to determine if your needs will be met.
Check your wheelchair
Before packing your suitcase and go, you will need to make sure your wheelchair is in a very good condition. If it is damaged or has problems, repair it before your travel departure. You would not want any problems on the plane from a damaged wheelchair.
Label Wheelchair parts
This is a very crucial tip: label any detachable parts of the wheelchair with your name and address in case they get separated during the flight. You can save yourself numerous headaches just by doing this simple step.
BE PREPARED FOR SECURITY
Prepare for airport security check: all passengers must go through screening at the security checkpoint, but you can ask to get modifications and get additional screening that matches your physical needs. This will make your airport experience easier.
You might need to inform the TSA officer of any health or medical conditions that may interfere with the regular screening process. If you cannot walk for regular screening process there is the option to do it in a seated position.
Ask to gate check your wheelchair
When traveling with a personal wheelchair, ask to gate check it. This allows you to stay in your wheelchair at the gate. If you can’t bring your wheelchair in the cabin, it will probably go in the cargo area. They have an aisle chair (special chairs built to be narrow to easily fit down the aisles of airplanes) for passengers who can’t walk to their seats. In these cases it would be wise if you have already included assembly and disassembly instructions on the wheelchair. This makes the process easier for the airline staff if the chair needs to be disassembled for storage during the flight.
RESERVE SPECIAL SERVICES
If you will need extra services, always make sure to reserve them ahead of time. For example request a seat with extra legroom, you’ll be glad you did. Other services you might want to reserve include early boarding because that can help you get settled before the plane fills with impatient passengers.