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Thread: Can anyone share experience on FLYING

  1. #1

    Can anyone share experience on FLYING

    I have never flown since my SCI. Can anyone share their personal experience and tips on flying. Any Info would be a great help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member KLD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001

    Try searching

    Using the Search function here, I put in the word "Flying" and got about 40 hits. You may want to use this to read some of the past extensive posts about this, or perhaps others could post the link to their favorites.

    You can also get some good advice at this site:

  3. #3


    i dont think i know you but i have flown and my experiences have all been very good. The food isnt great unless you get lucky and get booted to first class!!

    The airport persoannal(sp)is great, flight attendants, etc are too.

    I flew COntinental all the times i have flown and they handled my chair well. Of course I may just be a lucky flier and I am sure other will say theirs suck but anyways good luck if you are planning a trip.

    P.S. My first flight was after my SCI. I never flew as a "walker" ~~my new way~~ of saying those 'wierd' (kidding!!!!!!!) people who can move their legs. heheh



  4. #4
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    1. Get to the airport two hours early for a domestic flight.

    2. Only ticketed passengers are allowed beyond security. If you need help getting to the gate, obtain a special pass at the ticket counter.

    3. Don't check anything in a bag that you cannot do without. But be careful not to carry on anything that might be deemed dangerous, such as scissors.

    4. When purchasing your ticket, explain that you would like bulkhead seating because you use a wheelchair and need extra room. Only individuals with guide dogs or legs that do not bend are legally entitled to such seats, but the bulkhead is blocked out and usually is available to folks in chairs.

    5. Be prepared for a thorough search at security, but also be prepared to explain your limitations to uninformed personnel who might ask you to do stupid things, like get out of your chair.

    6. Check in at the gate, request assistance if needed and obtain a gate claim for your chair. Make sure you remove anything you don't want to lose off your chair, like brake handles. I highly recommend NOT traveling with a power wheelchair. Make sure to explain how your chair works -- if it folds, etc. Take your seat cushion with you.

    7. You will be placed on a narrow aisle chair to get to your seat. Explain to those helping you what you need, and make sure they strap you in.

    8. I usually limit my fluid intake to avoid having to take care of such matters in flight.

    9. You will be the first one on, last one off. Therefore, either take a nonstop flight or allow at least an hour between connections.

  5. #5

    Thank You Clipper

    Thank you so much for your informative post, and others as well. Your kindness is well appreciated. I am a flaccid para. Bowel and bladder conditions as well as losing my wheelchair scare the crap out of me so much it might as well be a good thing before I load the plane. Again thank you, I plan to travel soon in the future with my wife and two boys.

  6. #6


    Another couple of tips:

    1. Males can cath under a blanket (easiest with a "touchless" type cath kit) if needed. While they say the bathrooms are accessible on some planes, they certainly are not ADA accessible, and trying to get into the aisle chair mid-flight can be a nightmare. Otherwise, put in an indwelling (Foley) catheter for the flight and remove when you arrive at your destination.

    2. If you are traveling with someone else, have them get off the plane as soon as it arrives to snag your gate-checked wheelchair. We learned this after two times having someone take our wheelchair for another passenger, thinking it was a airport chair (like they provide such nice chairs!!!). Once in Puerto Rico we had to chase the people all the way to the curb to get our chair back. Now when I travel with my parents, I stay with my mother in the plane and my dad snags the chair and waits for us at the door. I help with the aisle chair transfers and make sure they do it correctly. Often they try to lift under the arms or do other unsafe procedures. You need to be assertive and direct what is appropriate for your needs during lifting. Also have someone guard your limbs as they can catch on seats while going up and down the aisles and the attendants often do not attend to this well.

    3. At airports without jetways, be prepared to be either bumped up/down the stairs or carried while strapped to the aisle chair, or if possible ask to ride up/down on the food cart lift truck.

    4. Plan to sit on your wheelchair cushion on the plane. If you use an airfilled cushion you may need to adjust the air to accomodate the changes in air-pressure in the cabin.

    5. Side to side weight shifts are possible with assistance and cooperation of your seat mate.

    6. There is not supposed to be any excess baggage charge for items such as checked raised toilet seats or commodes or lifts. Dispute this if you are asked to pay extra.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    Great suggestions, KLD!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Argao, Cebu, Philippines

    I just got back from the Philippines...

    Manila - San Francisco: 12 hr flight
    San Francisco - Atlanta: 4.5 hr flight
    Atlanta - Orlando: 1 hr flight

    Intense security leaving the Philippines. My carry on bags were checked five or six times. I was there over six months so I had to present an Exit Clearance at Immigration. Security in the US a lot lighter, although they briefly looked through my carry on bags in Atlanta.

    I've flown about thirty times since my injury, so even the long flights are getting routine. Certainly don't shy away from it.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

  9. #9
    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Los Angeles
    At airports without jetways, be prepared to be either bumped up/down the stairs or carried while strapped to the aisle chair
    I've done this on several occasions, and it can be scary. While the guys taking me up the stairs were strong and steady, I couldn't help seeing myself tipping forward and crashing to the tarmac on my head. The stairs to the plane are steeper than stairs going to a house, for example, and being strapped like Hannibal Lechtor on one of those 'straight-backs' is no fun on level surfaces, much less being carried up/down steps.


    "Because you're not promised tomorrow." ~ Stuck Mojo

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