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Thread: Train or Plane?

  1. #1

    Train or Plane?

    Great information. I need to transfer my mother, a recent quad, from Phoenix to Southern California and am looking for ideas.

    Does anyone know of airlines that take powerchairs? She is not able to transfer, we use a lift at her rehab facility. Two people could easily pick her up but I'd rather she stay in her chair.

  2. #2
    I would recommend flying over the train for moving your mother.

    The airlines will take a power chair and/or a manual chair. She will not be able to sit in the wheelchair on the plane though. She will need to be lifted (request 2 lifters from the gate agent or cabin attendant) from her power wheelchair at the door of the plane into a "aisle" chair, then wheeled to her seat, then lifted from the aisle chair to her seat on the plane. She should be pre-boarded, and you can accompany her (important that you direct the lifters to do it correctly). She will be the last person off the plane, and the process is reversed. Therapists at the rehab center should review all of this with you before she leaves. Insist upon it.

    We use a couple of gait belts to make this safer. One goes tight around the waist, the other firmly around both thighs together. I then instruct the lifters to use the strap of the belts to lift (one person on each side) rather than grabbing arms or lifting under armpits, both of which can be both painful and potentially injurious to a person with tetraplegia.

    Also, she should sit on her wheelchair cushion in the plane seat.

    If you can remove the control box from the power chair (the therapists at the rehab center should show you how to do this) before gate checking the chair, this would be best. The joy stick and control box are the part of the power chair most likely to be damaged. Put the chair in free-wheel for them to move it down to the luggage bay. If you are also transporting a manual wheelchair, be sure to put address labels on any removable parts (arm rests, foot rests, clothing guards, etc.) and if possible secure with packing tape. Don't leave a backpack or other storage bags on either chair...take them on board the plane.

    You will need to tell the cabin steward that you have a chair(s) to be brought up to the jetway from the luggage bag upon disemarkation, and that you will need lifters and an aisle chair at the gate. Do this no later than 30 minutes before landing.

    Always check the chair for damage immediately upon disembarking from the plane. Assemble it and put it through all its paces. If there is any damage, be sure to file an airline Conformance Officer report immediately (before leaving the airport).

    If she has medical supplies like adaptive equipment, urinary supplies, bowel care supplies, etc. this can all be packed into one duffle or suitcase, labeled "medical supplies/equipment" and there is no luggage charge for checking this. Take her meds with you as part of her or your carry-on...never check meds.

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by cathleen View Post
    Does anyone know of airlines that take powerchairs? She is not able to transfer, we use a lift at her rehab facility. Two people could easily pick her up but I'd rather she stay in her chair.
    Your mother will not be able to remain in her wheelchair for the flight; she'll need to transfer to a seat (with assistance).
    Daniel

  4. #4
    Don't know if it's too late to comment on this topic, but the one thing I wanted to mention is that if your mother were to take the train, she wouldn't be able to take it from Phoenix itself, but rather 35 miles to the south in Maricopa (the city, not the county in which Phoenix is actually located).

    That said, if she were to take the train, she'd be free to stay in her chair and move around, depending on the layout of the interior of the train cars.

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