How to Travel with a Power Wheelchair

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Wondering how to travel with a power wheelchair?

Feeling overwhelmed by your next upcoming trip?

I totally get that feeling!

Well, I’ve got you covered with these planning tips.

Check them out.

Things to Consider when Traveling with a Power Wheelchair

The first time I took a trip with my wheelchair, I was not prepared and it was a huge mistake.

Traveling with a power wheelchair for the first time can feel quite overwhelming.

Moving from one chair to another in an aircraft usually isn’t the most comfortable of things to do, especially when you’re new to the whole process. 

Properly planning ahead of your trip would give you a huge advantage.

You know what to expect, what to do to avoid unnecessary complications, and you’re mentally prepared for the journey.

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A man enjoying nature in a wheelchair.

1. Check for flight specifications before booking

This is the first thing you want to settle before booking a flight for your trip.

Most airlines have special reservations for disabled people. However, they often only have a few slots reserved for this category. So, you would want to confirm if you would be able to reserve a spot. 

When booking your flight, make sure you are explicit enough with the airline personnel. This would help you factor in all the peculiarities that might come with that particular flight.

For example, you can ask how they handle restroom use during the flight and if there would be people with experience handling wheelchairs to assist you in movement.

2. Ask for cargo dimensions

The cargo dimensions can help you figure out which flight is right for you, and wouldn’t stress you during your trip.

Useful specifications include the cargo weight specification – you have to compare this with your power wheelchair weight.

You should also ask about the door dimensions and figure out if they would have to arrange for a lift. Or you’ll probably have to change to a manual chair at the airport.

3. Ask for airport help ahead of time in case of layovers

Beautiful capture of an airport

For a good number of times, there is a need for layovers during travel. Especially for long distance travel. Speak to the airline staff ahead of your trip about getting help during the layovers.

A lot of times, there is barely time to get your power wheelchair in gear for you to use. You’ll probably have to transit in a manual.

4. Arrive early at the airport 

This would save you a lot of stress and make your trip more pleasant. Arriving early at the airport gives the airport security enough time to get you through the checks.

Most of the time, they would have to give you a close inspection as the power wheelchair can’t go through the metal detectors.

Expect a few pat-downs, as airport security is required to search thoroughly for explosives and harmful objects.

5. Attach the assemble/disassemble instructions for your power wheelchair

Here’s another pro tip that would come in handy for your travels. Always travel with a copy of your power wheelchair’s assemble and disassemble instructions or manual.

A good number of times, airlines prefer that your mobility gear be kept in the luggage. What this means is that they would have to disassemble your power wheelchair.

Having a guide to help the airline staff handle your power wheelchair properly sure goes a long way.

In fact, you can even add a note to politely request that they handle your wheelchair with care – as it’s basically your legs.

Particularly for power wheelchairs, you need to disconnect the battery when not in use. So, make sure you know how to do this for yourself, and also include the process in the guide.

6. Bring toolkit for power wheelchair troubleshoot along

A toolkit containing capacitor plugs for charging the wheelchair battery, a screwdriver, a few bolts and nuts, and basically technical stuff that comes with the wheelchair.

While there may not be need to use any of these on the trip, it doesn’t hurt to bring one along in case the need arises.

7. Consider renting at your destination if things don’t go as planned

A man in electric wheelchair

Many times, there are different complications involved with travel. For one, there might not be enough provision to make you comfortable by the airline.

There’s the possibility of aircraft changing, a tight schedule which doesn’t allow you to check all boxes, and so on.

What you want to do in such situations is to relieve yourself of some stress by arranging to rent a power wheelchair at your destination.

You could then opt to use the manual provided at the airport or even rent a travel electric wheelchair, which is more travel friendly.

8. If you can afford, fly business or first class for comfortability

Your comfortability is what matters most and it sure matters on how well you enjoy a trip. So, if you can afford to chip in a few hundred bucks, you should get yourself a premium pass.

For one, you’ll get more space to relax yourself during the trip. Plus you’ll most likely get more attention for your specific needs like using the restroom.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that being disabled should never be an excuse for you not to have fun and enjoy moments.

You can and should have fun trips and adventurous outings and visits to friends and family as much as you want.

No need to worry too much about how your mobility gear would fit into an aircraft. Just follow these helpful tips, do a bit of research, plan ahead, be patient with people, and have yourself a wonderful travel experience.

Do you have any other tips for traveling with a power wheel chair? Share below!

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