Last Updated on January 20, 2021
If you are going on a trip soon and are flying with a wheelchair-bound person, you can be their greatest source of help. However, to make this a better experience for them, ideally, there needs to be a solid plan from the beginning—from the moment you book your flight until the moment you arrive home and are at baggage claim.
It is impossible to stay in a wheelchair on a plane, but transitioning into a seat isn’t too difficult. Like many other things, it’s best to let the airline know in advance so they can accommodate your needs.
Read on for tips about flying with a wheelchair-bound person and how to best plan your trip.
Flying with a Wheelchair-Bound Person: Planning the Trip
Traveling with a wheelchair does have some challenges, but it should be like any other trip if you plan well. As you plan your flight, avoid booking sites and websites, and try to book directly with the airline if possible. You can let them know you’re flying with a wheelchair-bound person and can have your needs known.
It’s also best to ask for an aisle seat and be seated near the plane’s front (this helps with access to the restroom and deplaning). Also, book direct flights if possible. Layovers can get quite tricky if you have to make multiple stops.
Flying with a Wheelchair-Bound Person: The Day of Flight
People may wonder, how do wheelchair users get on planes? The answer is simple: if you have a motorized or electric wheelchair, security usually requires you to exit it before going through the checkpoint. If you have a manual wheelchair, you can bring it with you on the plane, and depending on its size, it is stored onboard the aircraft, usually in the cargo area.
Once you give your electric or motorized wheelchair to security personnel, you will be provided with an airport wheelchair and an attendant, who will guide you through the airport and onto the plane. If you’re wondering how to check a wheelchair at an airport, checking a wheelchair on an airplane is like checking regular luggage, right before the security checkpoint.
If you have a travel wheelchair or a small manual model and are wondering how to pack a wheelchair for a flight, they sell wheelchair flight bags exactly for this purpose. You can bring it on board as a carry-on.
Flying with a Wheelchair-Bound Person: Getting on the Plane
Even though you’re flying with your companion and accompanying them, the attendant can help your loved one the entire way, up the ramp and onto the plane. If the airline has made a mistake and you do not have an aisle seat, remember to voice this request again. This is so using the bathroom is an option during the flight.
Once the flight has landed, airline staff will help the passenger get into another airline wheelchair, and you can collect your motorized wheelchair with your checked luggage (or if you brought a manual wheelchair onboard, you could take it off with you).
Flying with a Wheelchair-Bound Person: Some Things to Note
There are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re flying with someone in a wheelchair:
- Some batteries in motorized wheelchairs have special rules when it comes to international travel. If you’re going outside of the United States, you will need to research what the rules are concerning the country you’re visiting and the specific brand of wheelchair/battery.
- Get a gate check claim ticket if possible. You can also ask and be assured that an aisle seat is reserved for you.
- Put removable wheelchair parts in a bag to make onboarding and deplaning easier.
- Arrive even earlier than usual. A post-COVID world is slowing everything down, and it will likely take a long time to get through security.
For more tips on flying with a wheelchair-bound person, or to learn more about mobility products that can be life-changing, such as wheelchair ramps, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives.