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Thread: Permobil airline prep

  1. #1
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    Permobil airline prep

    Hi, I recently received a Permobil F3. I've had Invacare chairs in the past, and when I've taken the chair on an airplane (to be stowed underneath), I've always removed the armrests and joystick. However, there does not seem to be a quick/easy way to do that with a Permobil chair, which I believe makes them very prone to being damaged. What do others do?

  2. #2
    I recently flew out of Pittsburgh to get to Miami. My brother pointed out to the airline staff how fragile the joy stick and arm rests are. I also tried to remind them they were basically handling my legs once I was not in the chair. I think the only thing that accomplished was to make myself feel better. I would suggest keeping some of the tools that you got from Permobil with your checked luggage. I have always had that brand of wheelchair. The only complaint I have, is that the arm rests are very difficult to adjust and are very easily moved. Good luck and have a safe trip.

  3. #3
    We travel a lot and what works for us is to give yourself time and not be rushed. We see people taking more parts and things off there chairs then needed.

    When you get to the ticket counter get your pre board documents then ask for a "ramp supervisor" vs a ramps opps agent that only boards passengers.

    The ramp supervisor is in charge of the ground crew that will be loading the chair.

    Explain to the him or her how your chair works, free wheels and any instructions that will help them.

    With Permobil or any chair you really do not need to pull the armrest off but inform them not to lay your chair on its side because it can crush the armrest tubes and mounting hardware based on its own weight.

    Sometimes by explaining cause and effect it helps them understand "whys"

    Side note we do take off my headrest and store it in the over head compartment. That extra height taken off makes it much more easy to fit in tighter cargo doors.

    What is cool with F series is the swing a way joy stick should swing both ways. So you can swing the joysitck all the way in to the inside armrest once you get out of the chair.

    Last explain to them dont to lift from the armrest and they dont offer support for lifting your chair on to the conveyor belt.

    Also the Permobil brand is simple to adjust the armrest height if needed and the tool is in your backrest.

    Hope this helps! Happy Travels...


  4. #4
    We made this years ago for those that might feel intimidated with air travel.


  5. #5
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    Thank you both for your feedback.

  6. #6
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    I just returned from a short vacation to Florida. I wasn't ready to bring my Permobil F3 yet because I was hesitant to risk damage to the new chair, so I used my Invacare Torque 3. As I mentioned above, we remove the controller, armrests, and legrests. The chair is manually pushed by airport staff to the cargo area of the plane. Which brought me to another question. The Permobil is SIGNIFICANTLY heavier then my Torque 3, and I can't imagine them being manually able to push the chair up the slope of the gangway. So do most let them use the controller to operate the chair??

  7. #7
    That's to bad..because you have a state of the art chair that I am sure your getting use to and then revert back to the old chair that gives a much harsher ride.

    Rememeber the luggage carrier act is on your side,
    luggage carrier act covers you and anyone else that has damage to their luggage and or you chair.

    Airlines are ususllay very apologetic and very proactive if one has damage and do there best to get it fixed while on your trip or when you return.

    Taking the joystick off I think is total over kill, but with the F3 you can just swing the joystick in to the seat back if that makes you feel more comfortable.

    Most airlines use lift systems that lift your chair on to the conveyor belt to load in to the cargo area.

    I have had six flights this month and not one damage yet.

    Hope you take another trip soon and have faith in the system!

  8. #8
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RollPositive View Post
    That's to bad..because you have a state of the art chair that I am sure your getting use to and then revert back to the old chair that gives a much harsher ride.

    Rememeber the luggage carrier act is on your side,
    luggage carrier act covers you and anyone else that has damage to their luggage and or you chair.

    Airlines are ususllay very apologetic and very proactive if one has damage and do there best to get it fixed while on your trip or when you return.

    Taking the joystick off I think is total over kill, but with the F3 you can just swing the joystick in to the seat back if that makes you feel more comfortable.

    Most airlines use lift systems that lift your chair on to the conveyor belt to load in to the cargo area.

    I have had six flights this month and not one damage yet.

    Hope you take another trip soon and have faith in the system!
    Thanks! But do you have them manually push the chair from the plane door to wherever it is loaded, or let them use the joystick? The chair is a beast to push on flat surface. I can't imagine pushing it up the gangway.

  9. #9
    I took my Permobil m300 into the office where I get weighed. I was in my old chair and we needed to get the weight of the new chair without me in it. The m300 with tilt, recline, and elevation, Roho Agility Mid Contour back system and cushion weighed in at 414 pounds. My Invacare TDX-SP weighs 365 and even at that was nearly impossible to push.

    "Roll Positive,"

    Do you transfer to a boarding chair at the gate or at the check in before security?

    I know the gate supervisor will send messages to the gate supervisor/crew at your destination, but I've not had great luck with these messages either getting to where they need to go or being read by the recipient. I can't tell you how many times, I have just sat on the plane after landing, waiting for someone to retrieve my manual chair at baggage claim and bring it back to the plane, when it was made clear to the ground crew at departure that the arrival crews needed to bring my manual chair to the gate. With the power chair, it just seems like there is a lot more screw up potential.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by landrover View Post
    Thanks! But do you have them manually push the chair from the plane door to wherever it is loaded, or let them use the joystick? The chair is a beast to push on flat surface. I can't imagine pushing it up the gangway.
    That is a great question...I always advise people to get there a little early and ask for the ramp supervisor vs the opps agent is the person who takes your ticket and guides you to the plan. Ramp supervisor is the one in charge of the crew that will physical loads you chair.

    The ramp supervisor is the one person who is going to be your best friend for the next hour! So by showing him how your chair works, free wheels, all the specifics that will help them load it faster they really enjoy it.

    We have talked to so many supervisors and ground crew that tell us the majority of chair users just leave the chair for them to figure all this out and it delays the loading and take off.

    If you understand the flight industry they are fined for leaving late so to push a 300 lb or now a 400 lb chair to the elevator which may be on the other side of the terminal I let them walk it with power or even ride it or push it I leave it up to them!

    If they ride it I just slow it down a little.

    The trust factor is big with us and I think its the reason we dont have issues is they have a face and personality now with the chair vs just another chair to load.

    Some will tell you they prefer to push the chair, others will smile and ride and give us a big thank you, my Wife is an expert and walking next to it and guiding it with the joystick so she has shown them how to walk next to it using the chair power and some really like doing that option.

    One thing I push others to make sure your specific on not loading it on its side show them how to lower the seat back as it helps make it fit though the cargo doors. Plus dont fly it on its side as it damages the wheels hubs and paint and breaks arm rest.

    Hope that helps!

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