Accessible Travel in a Manual Wheelchair
Flying these days can be quite a production. Knowing what you can and can’t bring, getting through security, and the crowds during peak periods could make you want to stay at home. Add to that medical equipment, especially your use of a manual wheelchair, and it is easy to see how you could become overwhelmed.
Well, we have a few tips to make things a bit easier for you.
- Alert the airlines that you will be traveling with a manual chair when you make your reservation. Request a seat with a moveable armrest. You can usually see these on the airline website or at www.seatguru.com.
- If you are changing planes, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. You will be the last person off the plane.
- Check-in at the ticket counter and notify the staff again that you will be gate checking your chair. You will NOT be charged for the gate check of your equipment.
- Go directly to the gate and alert the gate staff that you are gate checking your chair and will need pre-boarding assistance. They will tag your chair. Let them know if you are able to take a few steps to your seat or whether you will need an aisle chair.
- Make sure that you are at the gate at least five minutes prior to pre-boarding. Park yourself as close to the door as you can so that the staff can see you. Remember, they are dealing with a couple hundred people in a short amount of time, so anything you can do to keep yourself visible to them will help.
- When you get to the door of the plane, be sure to take anything that can come loose, including tippers, seat cushions, wheel guards. Store these in your overhead. We keep a foldable duffle to throw everything in.
- If you transfer to an aisle chair, be sure to keep your arms and legs tucked in.
- You will be assisted to your seat, so be sure to let the assistants know what they can do to help you.
- Talk to the flight attendant. Confirm with him/her that your chair has been stowed beneath the plane, and ask her to alert the gate staff prior to arrival that they will need to bring your chair back up after the flight.
- Watch our video on How to Travel with a Manual Wheelchair.
We hope that these tips will help make things go smoothly for you. Travel is an adventure, so keep a cool head, a sense of humor, and enjoy the ride!