How to Travel in A Wheelchair

How to Travel in A Wheelchair

Wheelchair users often ask how they can travel in a wheelchair. Undoubtedly, the wheelchair is part of their daily life, and they can’t commute without the chair. 

Being a wheelchair user, I feel it is stressful to travel in a wheelchair. We’ve to tackle certain problems in daily life especially accessing places that don’t have entrances for wheeled objects. In the past, it was even worse to travel in a car or plane for wheelchaired. 

Thankfully, now the world understands the needs of wheelchair users and makes us comfortable and accessible. But still, there are plenty of things I want you to adopt for traveling conveniently in a wheelchair. 

Keep reading this article to make pleasant traveling with a wheelchair. 

Tips for Traveling with a Wheelchair by Air

Below I will discuss a few very useful tips from my personal experience for making your journey stress-free. Make sure to read each one and take the necessary steps when traveling. 

1- Call the Airline

First, call your airline and tell them you will bring your wheelchair on the plane. It is not only beneficial for you, but it is the policy of most airlines to inform them 48 to 72 hours before the flight. 

You have to tell them your confirmation number. Then you need to explain your mobility aid details such as height, width, weight, length, and any other necessary specifications which they can ask, like a wheelchair battery, whether it is wet, dry, or gel cell. 

The sole purpose is to help them to make the appropriate arrangements for hassle-free flights. And if they have rules or regulations (mostly for batteries), you must be aware of them instead you tell them at the time of boarding. In such conditions, you may have to leave your wheelchair or will miss the flight. 

The airlines’ transportation authority can provide aisle seats if requested earlier. Further, they offer other assistance like taking you from the airport entrance and helping you to transfer to the plane seat. To avail of all these perks, you must inform the airline authority 2 to 3 days earlier. 

2- Pack Your Necessary Stuff

Packing necessary stuff doesn’t mean your clothes, shoes, and other personal stuff. In one way, it is also the stuff that you need to pack. But here I talk about wheelchair stuff like its charger (in case of a power wheelchair) and spare chair parts for replacement during traveling. 

Besides this, you can make your emergency wheelchair repair kit. Usually, it has the following items. 

  • Duct Tape
  • Zip ties
  • Tota bag for chair parts storge
  • Replacement screws
  • The user’s manual guide to wheelchair

This material is helpful on the flight for securing your wheelchair to avoid any damage. Further, this emergency kit is life-saving during traveling because you may face any problem on the journey. So, this kit has the necessary stuff to resolve the issues. 

3- Prepare Wheelchair for Flight

Now you have to prepare your wheelchair for the flight. For a manual wheelchair, it is pretty easy to get it ready. You just have to take off the wheels and fold them. And your wheelchair is prepared to stow in the closet of the plane. 

While for a power wheelchair, you require more attention to do the process. Its component requires extra care to avoid it getting damaged. However, it wouldn’t be much difficult after doing it 2 to 3 times. 

4- Arrive at the Airport Earlier

Airlines generally advise passengers to reach the airport 3 to 4 hours before the international flight and 2 hours earlier for domestic flights. You should follow the airline’s guidance. 

Reaching the airport earlier is much more mandatory for wheelchair users because it helps in two ways. 

First, it may take more time for passengers like us to go through the check-in at the airport because extra time was added to check the wheelchair’s metal. Moreover, searching and clearance permission for medicines bags may add even more time. 

Secondly, if you haven’t packed your wheelchair for traveling, you use it to reach the airport. For such situations, you must hand over your wheelchair to the airport transport security to pack it for stowing in the plane. So, the packing process may take time. Further, to avoid any damage to the chair component during the hurrying process of packing, you must go there earlier. 

Don’t be afraid to explain to the crew how to care for your wheelchair and what parts are fragile to any damage, and give them a wheelchair manual to follow the manufacturer’s process. Because once it happens to me while traveling, I forget to advise them. After the flight, I got my wheelchair damaged. This is necessary to make travel in a wheelchair easy. 

5- Check Tags Information Carefully 

Our luggage sometimes got the wrong tags a few times, eventually ending at the wrong destination. So, double-check the information of your tag and destination and match them to avoid such a situation. 

To do this, you can request the authority to know about the gate check label of the wheelchair. Certainly, you will never feel comfortable if you and your wheelchair end up at different destinations. 

6- Take off Sensitive Components

There are specific components on wheelchairs that are prone to damage and loss during the flight. Few wheelchair brands have a removable joystick. So, remove it and keep it in a safe place to get it damaged. 

You should remove the side guards of the wheelchairs if it has. Because it usually they can get lost or damaged in the cargo section. You can do it for any other element likely to get damaged or lost. 

7- Ask for Pre-Board

Few airlines offer pre-boarding for individuals who require special assistance. You can ask the authority if they can shift you to the plane prior. So you can easily find a seat and get settled. 

8- Report Wheelchair Damage Before Leaving

Upon reaching the destination, you will get your wheelchair back. When you get it, inspect it carefully and look for any damage before leaving the airport. 

If it gets damaged, the airline is responsible for paying for the repair it could. They can use your emergency kit to handle little tweaks. 

If the damage is worse, then you must have to fill damage report. The authority will do the necessary process like they are responsible for repairing by calling someone. Otherwise, they have to do the replacement of the wheelchair.

My Thoughts

I’m sure I helped you explain how to travel in a wheelchair. I share my traveling experience and tips I personally encounter while traveling by air. I hope these tips help you to more convenient and comfortable traveling.

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