Most people assume that flying with a power wheelchair or mobility scooter is a total headache. Fortunately, we have some tips and tricks that will make it a breeze! Spend your vacation enjoying yourself, not worrying about transporting your mobility device! It’s always good to be prepared, so plan ahead for the best possible travel experience. We want to make sure you have a stress-free flight and a relaxing vacation.
Planning for Success
Shop around to find the best ticket prices, and be transparent about your needs. Upgrading to a seat in business or first class may be the most comfortable option, but every airline has unique seat options. Its also a good idea to look for a bulkhead seat in the first row of any section of the plane so you have the most room to maneuver the aisle chair provided. Planning for a direct flight instead of a connecting flight will also limit the stress of travelling and reduce the chances of running into problems. Different airlines will have different weight limits for your scooter or power wheelchair as well, so make sure to ask a representative before you purchase your tickets. You also want to be sure to check the airlines policy on transporting the specific batteries in your device. If you do not specify the weight and battery type of your device before you fly you run the risk of the airline refusing to check it on the day of travel.
Preparing your Mobility Device
There are several ways for you to ensure your scooter or wheelchair travels safely and securely to your destination. We recommend taking a picture of your chair or scooter before you fly, just in case any damage is incurred. Be sure to remove any extra attachments from your wheelchair or scooter that you don’t plan on using during your trip. Wrapping any protruding pieces in bubble wrap or tape will protect them during the flight. It’s also a good idea to attach instructions for disassembly and reassembly in case the baggage handlers need to take it apart to get it into the cargo hold. You may want to keep the original instructions with you just in case of any last-minute changes that require further disassembly. Always remember to call your airline within 24 hours of your flight to ensure that there is still room for your mobility device on the plane. Flights can change last minute and most airlines can only accommodate one power wheelchair or scooter per flight.
Ask an Agent
Once you get to the airport we recommend giving your mobility device to your airline as soon as possible. It is much easier for the airline employees to get your scooter or wheelchair to your plane and in the cargo than trying to transfer into an aisle chair at your gate. If you feel more comfortable transferring at the gate, simply communicate that to an airline agent and they will make it happen. Regardless of when you check your mobility device, make sure you properly check your power chair or scooter with your airline and receive a special item luggage tag. You want to ensure your device will be waiting for you at the gate upon your arrival to your destination.
While it may be quicker to use a self check-in kiosk, speaking directly to an airline agent is a much safer bet. Checking in with an agent is your opportunity to make them aware of your needs and to go over your travel game plan. Be sure to go over the logistics of your transportation from the check-in counter all the way to your destination. Airlines will provide passengers with an aisle chair so you can easily get to your gate, board the plane, and access your seat on the plane. Put your mind at ease by asking the agent or flight attendant where the aisle chair will be stored during the flight.
Your Flight and Beyond
There are pros and cons to flying with any airline. Comfortable seats and reliable customer service are extremely important and can be easily researched online. One rather unfortunate aspect of flying with any airline, however, is the lack of accessible restrooms on planes. There is currently a federal regulation mandating planes to have accessible restrooms, but the reality is that many restrooms on planes are not up to the same standards as ADA access guidelines. This being said, the best thing you can do is to prepare. Consider using a catheter during long flights when you are not sure if you will be able to access the restrooms.
Another important preparation is arranging your transportation from your arrival gate to your destination. Communicate with the airline staff to find out where your scooter or wheelchair will be waiting for you. Most airports offer accessible shuttle services or access to public transportation, but it is always a good idea to plan ahead and know exactly how you will be getting to your hotel.
Our final piece of advice for traveling with a power wheelchair or scooter is to find a repair shop close to your destination in case any damage occurs. As much as we hope this does not happen, it is best to be prepared.
The above recommendations apply to mobility devices of any size, and with the right preparations, you can travel anywhere stress-free. We understand that you may not be looking for a new power wheelchair or scooter, but there are lots of travel-friendly options if you travel regularly and want a more compact device.
The Transport Plus Folding Scooter by EV Rider was designed with travel in mind. With airline-friendly sealed lead batteries, a total weight of just 46 pounds, and the ability to fold up in seconds, this durable scooter is a great option if you fly regularly.
Pride's Go-Go Folding Scooter folds up in three simple steps and features anti-tip wheels that double as transport wheels so you can easily roll the folded scooter. This is a great model to ride to your gate, as you can quickly fold it for baggage handlers to load into the cargo.
The Speedy Portable Scooter by eWheels is the fastest portable scooter on the market, with a top speed of 11 mph and the ability to travel 30 miles on a single charge. The Speedy portable also features a pull-out luggage handle for easy transport through the airport.
Pride's Jazzy Passport is a durable and portable power wheelchair that only weighs 60 pounds. This model comes standard with under seat storage, a back storage pocket, and a cup holder.
No matter where you go, we will always be here to help! If you want to know more about our portable mobility devices or have any general questions about traveling with your power wheelchair or scooter you can contact us here or give our product experts a call at 1-888-260-4430.