Disability shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to traveling the world or attending functions in another country. You can easily go abroad, sitting in your wheelchair, and live your life to the fullest. However, not being able to get on board or getting kicked from the airport because of having mobility problems with a wheelchair isn’t rare. Even if you give your wheelchair on the hands of the staff for cargo can damage it, and it happens so often.
So, the question is, can you take a wheelchair on a plane, or if you can, will you be safe after you land? You must know how the process works and how to make it work to have a smooth ride, both onboard and on the wheels. Stick to the article to get through the things that you must know about traveling with wheelchairs on a plane.
Can you take a wheelchair on a plane?
According to the US Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, every airline, based in the US, has to offer their disabled passengers wheelchair accessibility from the gates to the plane. The same applies to the foreign airplanes that are serving in the US; they also have to offer wheelchair accessibility for their passengers with disabilities.
The acts and the regulations may vary from one country to another, but most of the airlines offer the same facilities to their passengers. However, you must know how to let the airline know that you have a disability, and you need assistance at the airport. Choose the right plane, make the arrangements, make sure they are there to help you with your situation, and proceed.
How do wheelchair users get on planes?
Traveling on a plane with a wheelchair can be a problem if you don’t know how to avail of the facilities and get on the plane. If you’re traveling with your wheelchair on a plane, you must let the airline know that you need wheelchair assistance at ticket reservations. After the TSA screening, you will board on the plane along with your wheelchair; use the wheelchair accessible entrance.
In some cases, the airline staff will automatically lift you up to the departure gate. With some airlines, you must have a reservation to have wheelchair assistance. You have to do it at least 48 hours before the flight to have the proper arrangements for you. They will tag your chair to identify the owner and assist you with an aisle chair to your seat.
Factors to consider when traveling with a wheelchair on a plane
You can travel in your wheelchair, get on a plane and fly with it just fine if you know how to do the job well. Here are the things you must know when can you take a wheelchair on a plane and how do you do that:
Preparation for the flight
Whoever is planning on going to a flight needs to prepare with the luggage or choosing the flight. However, as you need special attention, your list of preparation goes beyond the regular people’s preparation. Especially if you’re using a power wheelchair, it becomes even more crucial. Not all the wheelchairs have the same services from the airline because there are things to consider here.
The wheelchair dimension, automatic or manual, needing an aisle or not, inquiries about restrooms; the list goes on. If your chair is electric and has a battery, know where the battery is, and how to detach it. Take your time to prepare for the flight and know what you’d face after entering the airport gate.
Reserving the airline ticket has steps to follow, especially if you’re a passenger with disabilities. First, you should know which airline is the best at serving their handicap passengers; go through some reviews online. Now, when you’re reserving your seat, be sure to inform the agent that you’re handicapped and need assistance with your wheelchair.
Once you arrive at the airport, the airline employees will be ready to help you at the check-in process and the departure gate. They will escort you through the aisle with their foldable aisle wheelchair if your chair doesn’t get through. Another reason you must pay attention to the reservation is that the airplane may not have enough mass clearance. You’ll provide the information about your wheelchair, such as the dimensions, the total mass, whether it’s battery-powered or manual, and so on.
Once you arrive at the airport, you have to get through the TSA security screening; and you should know your rights as a handicapped person. You will pass the TSA screening while sitting in the wheelchair and continue to the checkpoint. You have to deposit your belongings while passing through the metal detector. If you cannot take your shoes off, you don’t have to because, according to TSA, it’s your right to have a disability.
If you’re a female passenger and prefer to get screened by a female agent, you can ask the TSA agent to provide a female escort. If you’re traveling with another person, you can ask him/her to keep an eye on your belongings while the screening goes on.
Prevent damage and get onboard
After the TSA screening, you will approach the wheelchair accessible entrance to the departure gate and get inside the plane. You may have to remind the airline staff that you have informed them that you’re getting on board with a wheelchair. They will have the proper arrangement for you and get your wheelchair to the cargo hold with proper precautions. Now, if you’re using a manual wheelchair, it’s easier, and there are fewer hassles to go through.
But, if it’s a power wheelchair, you have to take time and let the airline staff do their job and escort you to your seat with the aisle chair. They will take the wheelchair and store it on the cargo hold; don’t forget to take pictures of the wheelchair before handing over. The picture will help you claim from the airline if the chair damages. Plus, don’t forget to take the peripheral parts of the chair and let them take only the chair; or, you may lose them!
Frequently asked questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about taking a wheelchair on a plane and flying with wheelchairs that you should know about:
Do airlines charge extra for wheelchairs?
Mobility devices, including wheelchairs and collapsible walkers, are considered as checked baggage, free of charge. However, special wheelchair assistance may require extra charges.
Is wheelchair service free at airports?
According to the civil rights of passengers with disabilities, airlines cannot charge passengers for wheelchair assistance with the regular entrance.
Is wheelchair assistance at the airport free?
The airline must provide free wheelchair assistance at the airport if they don’t want to violate the Air Carrier Access Act 1986. They must provide proper assistance to their passengers for safe travel.
If you’re disabled or an elderly person who cannot move without help, chances are, you’re using a wheelchair. A wheelchair helps you move from place to place without a helping hand and makes you free to live on your own, especially in your area. The question is, Can you take a wheelchair on a plane if you need to travel abroad?
As you can see, you have all the right to take a wheelchair with yourself anywhere in the world. However, as the airplane has its cargo and accommodation limitations, and you have a disability, both need to follow the proper procedure. Make sure you’re following the process mentioned above and know your rights at the airport and inside the plane.