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Tips for Air Travel in a Wheelchair

The Freedom Mobility


I can't thank Kelly and her staff enough for how helpful and caring they have been during my mother's recovery. It is obvious that they have the client's best interests in mind. I highly recommend this company!
- Jill Layton Alperstein


Travel, in its nature requires both preparation and planning for everything, particularly when air travel is involved. Traveling may be stressful and full of inconvenience for someone who suffers from a disability. If you are a wheelchair user and you will be traveling by air for some time of your life, you might be anxious and you might not know the best things to do. Here are some helpful tips for traveling with your wheelchair.

Before You Go

One good thing that you must do in order to make everything run smoother in the air is getting familiar with the law, so that you know what you can anticipate on the flight. In case that you cannot walk at longer distances, you can request for an airport wheelchair when making a reservation. If you will be traveling with your wheelchair, allow the reservation agent to know what form of a supporting device you use. A passenger who travels with a battery-powered wheelchair should be able to reach the airport an hour before the usual check-in time.

You must also request to have a chair that has a flip-up armrest when making your reservation because it can make the transfers hassle-free. There are airlines that routinely block the bulkhead chairs for wheelchair users. On the other hand, this is not important and mandatory under ACAA. When the bulkhead seating matters to you, ensure that you travel on the airline which reserves the seats for a disabled passenger.

It is also best to attach rich assembly as well as disassembly directions to your wheelchair before going to the airport. Under the law, when the wheelchair has been disassembled for transportation, it should be returned to its owner in good and correctly assembled condition. Having written assembly directions readily available will make the whole process simple.

In the Airport

When you get into the airport, you will have to navigate the airport security. When you cannot walk over the metal detecting machine, let the TSA or Transportation Security Administration agent know and you’ll be hand-wanded then you will be given a manual pat-down. Ensure that you will inform the TSA agent when you have any part of your body that is in pain prior to undergoing the screening process. You will also be entitled for a private screening session, together someone you will be travelling with, who can be a friend or a family member.

The moment that your wheelchair will be brought down the cargo area, you must be transported going to your seat with a high-back aisle chair, in case you cannot walk. After that, your wheelchair will be given to you as soon as you arrived at your destination at the gate. In a place that can accommodate as much as more than a hundred passengers, there’s also a storage space aboard for one manual wheelchair. This particular space is made available on a first-come-first-serve basis so it is very important to come early in the airport so you can get the spot and use it.

Also, it is very important to take into account your toilet options if you fly so that you could plan ahead accordingly. Many accessible airline lavatories are quite small and you have to be able to walk some steps so as to make use of them. Therefore, it is best to use these airport facilities before boarding.