Top Tips for Easier Air Travel by Wheelchair
Planning a trip can be stressful and complicated for anyone, let alone those who are in wheelchairs. A disability increases the number of considerations for the flight ahead. The five suggestions below can help make the next vacation or business trip by airplane easier for a wheelchair user of any age.
Booking the Flight
For ease of getting out of and back into the wheelchair, make sure you book an aisle seat. On a related note, think ahead to how this seat transfer will happen: if it requires straps, make sure to pack them.
When booking the flight, also try to get a seat that is near the front of the plane. This will cause the least disruption for yourself and other passengers. Where possible, book a direct flight to avoid layovers and avoid multiple transitions in and out of the chair.
For support at the airport or in the plane, non-emergency medical transfer services, such as Flying Angels, can give you peace of mind, increased safety, and personal comfort for a high-quality travel experience.
With a Power Wheelchair
If you have a power wheelchair, ensure you have information ready about your chair to give to the airline. Specifically, know the make and model, as well as the mobility battery type it takes. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suggests that you should be ready to share the battery location.
If traveling outside of the United States, research what batteries you can take on board the plane. Check what the airline allows and the guidelines for your destination country.
For flights within the U.S., check with the airline that non-spillable batteries are allowed in the cabin with you. If there is no room in the cabin for the wheelchair, it may have to be moved to the checked baggage area, as per the FAA.
Your access to toilet facilities may be limited during a flight. If traveling with a skilled assistant, this individual can help take you to and from the bathroom or provide suggestions before the flight begins to minimize any discomfort and ease stress.
Alternatively, the flight may have an aisle wheelchair. This can be verified for you ahead of time. That said, if you would rather not leave the seat during the flight, try to avoid drinking liquids prior to boarding.
Final Words: Get Extra Information
To minimize any difficult situations at the airport and in the air, reach out to both the departure and destination airport. If taking multiple flights to get to the desired end location, contact each one of these too.
When contacting the airports, explain that you are traveling by wheelchair and ask them about accessibility around the specific airport and on their planes.
While airports are taking steps to assist persons with disabilities better, there can still be limitations. Finding out about obstacles in advance can prevent any surprises on your trip.
Finally, make inquiries about security policies that affect those in wheelchairs. The airline may provide details that are new to you. Collecting as much information as possible ahead of time can make for a smoother journey by air.