Wouldn’t it be neat if wheelchairs could fly? That’s what I’ve been daydreaming about since making the trip to Houston, Texas last week.
I learned a lot about traveling with a motorized wheelchair. It wasn’t my first time on a plane; however, it was my maiden voyage without Mom or Dad. That was a big step toward being more independent! Big thanks to my buddy Nathan for being my sidekick on this trip.
Until someone invents a flying wheelchair, here are 5 tips when planning a flight:
1. Call the airline early to schedule accommodations.
For the passenger: Skycaps at the airport will help you transfer from your wheelchair to the seat on the plane. A small aisle chair is used to take you from your wheelchair to the seat on the plane. Bulkhead seats allow for ample room on the plane.
For the wheelchair: Since wheelchairs are stored in the cargo section, inform the airline of the type of battery cell in the powered chair (dry, wet or gel).
Keep all removable parts of the chair with you on board the plane if they come off the chair easily. For example, lateral pads, headrest, seat cushion, etc. (when boarding the flight, ask for a big bag to store all the items).
2. Give yourself plenty of time to make connecting flights.
If you can’t schedule a direct flight, make sure to have a layover allowing you to make it to the next plane. You can get your chair brought to you during layovers, or you may use a manual wheelchair from the airport.
(We almost missed our return flight from Atlanta to Charleston since the Atlanta airport is so large)
3. Schedule wheelchair accessible ground transportation from the airport to your destination.
Call to see if there are accessible taxis or paratransit available. Make sure their vehicles have lifts or ramps.
4. Have contact numbers for durable medical equipment representatives in the area you’re visiting in case any urgent issues arise with your wheelchair.
(I had to call the national Permobil number while in Houston when my chair was stuck in tilt and wouldn’t drive)
5. Have fun! Don’t let your disability stop you from exploring the world!
If you have any tips to share, please comment below. Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!