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Thread: Air Travel 101-advice requested

  1. #1
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    Air Travel 101-advice requested

    Ok,
    I'm somewhat embarrassed to ask this question this way because I find the airline process intimidating. I've flown once or twice pre-injury & only once post injury, 13 years ago, & I was so messed up I remember very little & I didn't participate in the planning.

    Airlines-is any one better than another?

    Can you just walk me through the airline process a bit
    -is there someone special to call at the airline regarding disabled issues?
    - I've a large reclining power wheelchair- last time I rode right up to the gate & two airline employees lifted me into a small chair to board... then they took my chair & put it in cargo-is it still done this way?-as far as the power chair goes, is there anything I should do to help keep it in one piece?
    -What about baggage, extra equipment-shower chair etc.-can you just check this?
    -flying post 911-last time I took a bunch of junk on the plane- drugs, cream, leg bag full of liquid etc.
    -do I want to ask for a specific seat, aisle etc., I'll have someone with me & will need to lean forward periodically to weight shift

    I'm literally like a child when it comes to this stuff-no info is too remedial
    thank you so much

  2. #2
    It will depend on various aspects of your profile, such as your level, location, degree of independence, and whether you will be travelling alone or with an aide/assistant. Can you transfer independently?

    Are you travelling within the United States? Internationally? Most domestic airlines are about the same (mediocre) in terms of how they accomodate. You should check with the airline ahead of time, and then inform each of the people you deal with about your special needs.

    Different airports and airplanes have different ways of boarding and deplaning (whether there are steps involved or if you will be rolled down the jetway).

    For the most part, the electric chair will need to be stowed as cargo. There are a lot of stories about how to minimize damage (i.e. have instructions on how to break it down, disable it so that they don't try driving it and breaking it, etc.) and you'll need to be transferred to an aisle chair. You will need to request a seat with the moveable armrest that comes up (most aren't like that).

    Good luck and post more info so that others can chime in.
    Daniel

  3. #3
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    I haven;t flow since my accident, but this thread is rrather recent: http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthr...hlight=airline
    It also has a lot more links in it, to follow as well.

    Have a good trip!
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

  4. #4
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    I'm very weak c5, can't transfer myself, would have someone with me

    I haven't booked any flights or anything as this plan is still in its infancy,be flying direct from a fairly small airport in the Midwest to Charlotte for one trip & Vegas for another

    I'm justnot sure what questions I need to ask to let the airline know I'm coming & who's appropriate to talk to?
    thanks

  5. #5
    I usually just make sure to get to the gate early, and tell them I'm here, and what I need. I've had no luck telling anybody when I book flights. Try for the bulkhead seats; they have the most legroom. Be sure you tell them you'll need an aisle chair, and need to gate-check your wheelchair. Once in a blue moon one will be clueless. "We don't have aisle chairs." You'll have to "walk" them through it, if that happens.

    You'll have to edit your carry-on liquids. You can bring them, only 3 oz. containers, and they have to be in clear ziploc bags. Some airports require each container in a separate bag, some want them all in one, so bring extras. An empty waterbottle to empty your legbag in might be handy. Bring your meds in your carry-on luggage. Checking meds is a bad plan, your luggage might get lost. Remember, you can always buy lotions etc. at your destination.

    I've read that shower chairs etc don't count in your baggage weight limits, as they are medical equipment. I'd check that when you choose an airline.

    I'm liking Delta recently, but all American airlines are equivalent imo. It's a roll of the dice, how helpful the person at the gate wants to be. Last year, I had one make me walk back 23 rows LOL (I have an incomplete injury, but not THAT incomplete! That was horrible!). And I also had one that lined up 4 people to help me, whisked me through customs, gave me bulkhead seats, just amazing service. You never know.

    You'll board first, de-plane last. If they forget to allow this, speak up. Do a search here and a little web research too, about flying with that power chair. The most important thing is that it arrive with you, and in one piece.

    Have fun! The more research you do, the better you'll feel starting out. I promise, unless you poop yourself, it's not that bad. If, God forbid, you do...that always ruins my day anyway.

    Dress decent. Sweats and flying guarantee shoddy service.

    And if your health is shaky, spring for the travel insurance. The only thing worse than missing a trip is missing it and losing $700, too.
    Last edited by betheny; 02-14-2008 at 11:46 AM.

  6. #6
    If you have one, take an extra long gait belt to fasten around your chest. My first flight post-injury we hit some turbulence that had me flopping around until the flight attendant put a couple of seat belt extenders together and wrapped them around me. Now I keep a gait belt in my backpack. It hasn't been a issue since.
    My blog: Living Life at Butt Level

    Ignite Phoenix #9 - Wheelchairs and Wisdom: Living Life at Butt Level

    "I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."

    Dawna Markova Author of Open Mind.

  7. #7
    Put signs on your wheelchair not to take it apart. Make sure that the chair is always with you from gate to gate.

    Arrive early.



    Empty your lakebag prior to getting on the plane (just an assumption on my part).
    Get involved in politics as if your life depended on it, because it does. -- Justin Dart

    I shall not tolerate ignorance or hate speech on this site.

  8. #8
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    Thanks,so I should still probably call both the airline & the airport just to find out who's responsible for assisting me...

    my biggest fear really is the power chair not making it or being broken to the point where it does not work.

    Then I will be relatively helpless-why doesn't anyone rent these things... rhetorical question.

  9. #9
    Rent what things?

    Take everything off your power chair that is at all fragile. This is esp. true of your control box/joy stick. Carry it onto the plane along with cushion (which you should sit on), foot pedals or any other removable parts. Put the power chair in free-wheel so they can get it into the hold. Insist that they take it down to the hold on a fork lift or elevator rather than trying to carry it down the steps...we have seen power chairs dropped this way.

    If you have to change planes, insist on getting your own chair at the transfer airport. Don't let them put you in an airport chair. This way you can also determine who damaged your power chair (if it gets damaged) and make sure it makes the correct plane transfer with you.

    When you get your chair back, put it together and run it through its paces before leaving the airport. Any damage should be reported immediately to the compliance officer for the airline.

    You can check medical equipment/supplies at no extra charge as long as those bags contain only those items and are well marked. This includes lifts and shower/commode chairs (which you sometimes can rent at your destination).

    You will have to be lifted into the aisle chair and into your seat. Get a seat with a swing up arm rest (it won't be a bulkhead seat). You are only entitled to a bulkhead seat if you can't bend your knees at all. We use a gait belt around my mothers chest and another around both thighs together for the two lifters (insist on getting two) who do this and refuse to let them lift you by or under your arms. Be sure to notify both the gate agent and the cabin steward that you will need both the aisle chair and the lifters at both ends of your flights. Who does this depends on the airport, but it is never the plane's crew.

    (KLD)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse
    Rent what things?(KLD)
    power wheelchairs

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