Power Wheelchair Travel Hacks

When traveling with a power wheelchair, we can use all the help we can get. Traveling can be stressful and time consuming if you consider the delays in airport security or customs if you travel abroad. There are a few things I do that help me and my power chair travel safely to and from my destination.

Know the Weight of Your Power Wheelchair

Knowing the weight of your power wheelchair is extremely important. If airport personnel ask you this question, you can be ready with the answer to help move things along quickly. Don’t know the weight of your power chair? No problem! You can contact Quantum Rehab. Give them your serial number and they can provide you with an approximate weight of your chair, including the base, all your seating and positioning components, electronics, wheelchair cushion, you name it.

Label Your Motorized Wheelchair

When traveling, it’s good to attach a sign or labels to the chair. This can include instructions on how to operate it, so they know how to move it carefully and safely. You can include instructions on how to disengage and reengage the brakes. Other things to include are the weight of your chair, the exact dimensions (width and height), your contact information, and anything else you think is relevant.

Elevate at iLevel During the Security Check

When you are in line for the security check before your flight, it’s helpful to elevate your motorized wheelchair at iLevel®. I feel like the security people appreciate the chair more when it is elevated. It gives you an advantage. People are usually fascinated by wheelchairs that elevate, so security will pay more attention to you, making the security process much smoother.

silhouette of airplane in golden hour
Photo by Marina Hinic on Pexels.com

Typically, power wheelchair users can’t go through the full body scanner, which means the security personnel are going to pat you down. They’ll ask if you want a private room for it but I feel it’s better to have the pat down in public. Most likely, anyone who is watching will be focused on the security person and not you. It’s important for others to see how people with disabilities and individuals with wheelchairs are treated and to make sure the security person is doing everything properly and respectfully. Plus, because everyone will be watching, it’ll probably cut down the amount of time security spends frisking you.

The Best Airline to Travel

If you don’t have a preference for an airline, I recommend flying Southwest Airlines. You are the first one to board and they get your motorized wheelchair taken care of right away. When your wheelchair is up front and your being transferred from your wheelchair to your seat, make sure you remove some of the most fragile pieces of your chair, such as the joystick. I would also keep your wheelchair cushion with you too. This ensures less risk of something bad happening to your wheelchair. Another tip? If you put the chair in tilt or recline at a certain angle, it will make it fit easier without the crew members having to do much work. 

I hope you find some of these hacks helpful for the next time you board a plane!

About Jesse Cuellar: Jesse is an artist and a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. An accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, so he uses his mouth to paint and expresses himself through his art. Jesse lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoys painting and hanging out with his friends. Click here to learn more about Jesse.


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