How to bring a wheelchair on a plane

Arriving at an airport and finding your way around can be a stressful situation. Unfortunately having to travel with a wheelchair doesn’t make it any easier. If you are bringing a wheelchair on a plane for the first time, here are some tips to make the process go a little smoother.

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First, if you have time service the wheelchair before you go to avoid any potential break down while on holidays. Once your ticket is booked, notify the airline at least 48 hours in advance that you will be travelling with a wheelchair as this will help them make the necessary arrangements for you.

On the day of your flight, arrive at the airport a few hours in advance. When you are at the ticket counter, explain that you would like to “gate check” the wheelchair. This will allow you to take it all the way to the fuselage where you will then be taken on a special aisle chair or seated near the entrance. Because you will be able to pre-board, it is important to arrive at the boarding gate well in advance.

Make sure that any detachable part of the chair such as seat cushions or the footrest are removed before it is taken away and stored. Have your chair labeled with your name, address and destination airport. If you have a wheelchair powered with wet cell batteries, these will need to be temporarily removed and stored.

You can also write any instructions that may be helpful for the airport personnel as they load and unload it. The wheelchair will be taken down the elevator and the leads and cap will be disconnected to avoid any shorting but will be reconnected upon arrival.

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