In a previous blog, I shared tips on how to protect your wheelchair when traveling by plane. As much as one can plan and prepare to travel by air, as a wheelchair user the planning doesn’t stop when we get to the airport. In fact, what we do to ease potential travel woes when flying (such as wheelchair damage) becomes even more important once we arrive at the airport. Here are a few things you can do when you reach the airport to make your flying experience run smoothly.
Arrive Early at the Airport
Arrive at least 2 hours early. This will leave you plenty of time to check-in, get through security, and handle any access needs (such as restroom or food). It also leaves room for any mishaps along the way.
Go Before You Go
Since airplanes have yet to develop accessible restroom options, it’s important to handle any restroom needs prior to boarding the plane.
Pack Your Charger in Your Carry On
Keep your wheelchair charger and other chargers in your carry-on. Unfortunately, bags do get lost and/or delays happen, which means you may not have access to your luggage for a while. Keeping chargers in your carry-on luggage ensures all your devices, from your wheelchair to your phone, are always with you.
Speak with Airline Employees
Chat with baggage handlers about how to operate your equipment. Each time I get to the gate, I request to speak to the ground crew. I show them how to turn my chair on and off, how to put it into freewheel mode and how to tilt and recline it. This has made a huge difference in reducing damage because it eliminates their guesswork about how to maneuver it and get it under the plane.
Hope for the Best
Pray. Cross your fingers and toes. Wish upon a star. Do whatever will give you some extra luck for the journey. At the end of the day, you can try everything and still not end up with a perfectly in-tact wheelchair after flying. Hopefully these tips will help a bit!
Click here to read part one of this blog.
About Andraéa LaVant: Andraéa is a disability consultant and worked as an impact producer for Crip Camp, a feature-length documentary on Netflix. Andraéa lives in California and uses a 4Front 2 Power Chair.
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