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Air Travel for Wheel Chair Users

By: Jonathan Webb - Updated: 4 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Disabled Air Travel Wheelchairs Holiday

Being disabled should not be a barrier to air travel and holidays. The important thing is to plan ahead and let the airline, travel agent or tour operator know what type of assistance you will require at the airport or on the plane. Try and give the airline as much notice as possible so they are able to arrange to have the appropriate staff in position for your journey. Booking as far in advance as possible will also save you money as advance fares are usually considerably cheaper.

If you are undertaking a particularly long journey ,and are unable to walk to and from the toilet, it is essential that you ensure that you book an aisle seat. It is also worth researching, bearing in mind how tiny airline toilets can be, if the plane's toilet has a privacy curtain.

Many international routes make use of wide bodied jets. It is worth checking to confirm that the plane has a wide enough aisle for the use of an aisle chair to get you around the plane. An aisle seat is usually very narrow with a bolt upright back and useful for transporting you to the toilet etc. Some routes may well only use wide bodied planes on some of their services over the same route so, if possible, try and book on one of these, especially if you want to make use of an aisle chair.

Wheelchairs and other mobility aids are usually unloaded first from the aircraft once it reaches its destination. These items will be returned to the passenger as soon as is practically possible and as near to the aircraft's door as regulations permit.

Carrying Wheelchairs

The carrying of electric wheelchairs is allowed and airlines divide them into two distinct types. An electric wheelchair will be classed as a dangerous material on account of its battery being considered a hazard. A wheelchair powered by a battery that could spill must have the batteries entirely removed in circumstances where the chair will be upright for the entire journey and attached to the chair. Batteries that cannot spill, however, do not have to be removed from the chair unless it is believed that the battery has suffered damage and leakage is a possibility.

Some, usually larger airlines are often able to carry passengers in stretchers, although you will have to fly with supervision .This also often entails the purchase of additional seats(typically between 6 and 9) to make up for the airline's loss of seating on the flight.

At The Airport

Even if you are normally independent you may need help at the airport because of the long distances involved. To get to the gate it may be necessary to use a wheelchair or buggy. Airlines must carry your mobility equipment free of charge but some airlines are not required to compensate you in full if it is lost or damaged, so consider separate insurance cover .Also check how many pieces of mobility equipment you will be allowed to take with you as many airlines only allow 1 wheelchair per plane.

Health and safety legislation can prohibit passengers from taking their own wheelchair in the passenger cabin and this will be put in the hold. The point at which you have to change chairs will vary from airport to airport and the type of passenger boarding equipment used.

In some cases an airline may request that a companion accompanies a passenger,in order to provide assistance during the journey. To travel alone you should be capable of moving from a passenger seat to an onboard wheelchair, as cabin crew are prohibited from lifting passengers in and outof seats.

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Hi I have a friend who would love to fly. He’s full time in a wheel chair with a lift needed to get in and out of. He is heaver set. Is it possible to use his portable lift on the plane to get in and out of the seats?
Isobel - 4-Sep-18 @ 7:31 PM
Hi,my partner has severe lymphoedema which means she is large in the lower body,also she has knee issues brought on by the weight baring.We have always used monarch airlines,and found them to be brilliant in their dealings with her,ie extra legroom seat at no extra cost,seatbelt extender given discretely,extra legroom seats at the front of the plane and not next to emergency exits,making them out of bounds for disabled passengers,and arm rests that lift up thereby giving extra room,all round a problem free travelling experience.However,since the demise of Monarch,we have been unable to find any carrier who can meet our needs,the level of knowledge of the advisers at all the airlines I have contacted is staggering,when asking if they have extra legroom seats for use by disabled passengers they seem oblivious to the restrictions,and as to whether the arm rests lift up ,no idea,when one did say the extra legroom seats were ok i asked if that could be guaranteed on all their planes,and was told no ,so a gamble to book.a couple even said book first and then we will allocate you a seat,but again a risky gamble. so has anyone found a descent airline for these issues,we are wanting to fly to Lanzarote so a short haul flight?
sparky2076 - 26-Aug-18 @ 10:51 AM
My grandson is full time in s wheelchair after being put there in a hoyerlift and can’t be transferred to a plane seat.How can we transport him by air to Europe?
Noahsfeat - 25-Jun-18 @ 6:48 PM
I am a carer for a man that has no mobility and has a electric wheelchair made to fit his body. He is hoisted from his bed to his wheelchair/shower chair/arm chair all made to fit his posture as he can not sit up. He would have to stay in his wheelchair or laid flat. How is it possible to do this? He hae one dream of going on an airplane
Sammy - 16-Jun-18 @ 3:48 PM
I am hoping to travel to NZ via Singapore & Sydney later this year. Please advise the best airline for a wheelchair user. (Paralysed from chest down). Also any advice on accommodation in Singapore & Sydney please.
Lottie - 28-May-18 @ 4:01 PM
Hi i am asking on behalf of a friend. Her daughterhas no mobility and has to usually be hoisted in and out of her wheelchair, as they are not able to lift her physically. Due to her disabilities she cant help herself either. Is there any way she could fly. She also has no trunk control so would be unable to sit in an aisle wheelchair
Scotty1972 - 25-May-18 @ 3:27 PM
I am a obese person that uses a walker and foldable wheelchair. I have been told that the airline will help me. I have booked two seats but I am concerned about the bathrooms. I have heard they are very small. Will I be able to fit into them? Will I be able to keep my walker with me?
Kat - 26-Apr-18 @ 11:24 PM
Hi can anyone help, I am wanting to know if I can fly in a reclined position? I use a riclined electric wheelchair as I can't sit up straight, I can walk very short distances with crutches. I have been like this for over 3 years. Whenever I've flown in the past, before my disability, seats upright and trays away. Does anyone know the rules and regulations for what I require. Thanks in advance Wayne
WayneL - 22-Apr-18 @ 4:37 PM
@Shari - you might be better with a disabled holiday company who can organise access from door to door. Disneyland will have good disabled access, but it's the other getting to and from places that causes the hassle.
MumN - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:31 PM
I am an advocate for individuals with disabilities and working with a family who wants to take their severely disabled adult sized daughter to Disneyland to vacation with the family. Due to her level of scoliosis she can’t ride in a vehicle for long periods. It seems there should be some sort of resource for assisting. Please help. Thank you!
Shari - 2-Apr-18 @ 4:45 PM
Hi, we are planning a trip to Murcia with our 19yr old quadraplegic son and would love some advice on how we will embark and disembark at Murcia airport?I'm sure there must be a way that doesn't involve carrying him down steps?He needs his own wheelchair at the aircraft door.We're wondering if Alicante has better facilities as it is a bigger airport, but then the transfer to the accommodation takes an additional hour.Any advice or previous experience very welcome!
claire - 31-Mar-18 @ 8:26 AM
Dm67 - Your Question:
Hi don't know lf anyone can help I am taking my mother to Australia soon and want to if I can get assistance with her to get her to check in as she is a wheelchair user we have wheelchair assistance from check in but as we are going by taxi I will not have her wheelchair does Heathrow Terminal 3 have wheelchairs I could use for her

Our Response:
You can see more via the Heathrow link here, which should help answer your question.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 19-Mar-18 @ 3:57 PM
Hi don't know lf anyone can help I am taking my mother to Australia soon and want to if I can get assistance with her to get her to check in as she is a wheelchair user we have wheelchair assistance from check in but as we are going by taxi I will not have her wheelchair does Heathrow Terminal 3 have wheelchairs I could use for her
Dm67 - 19-Mar-18 @ 12:45 AM
D - Your Question:
We have flown before with our disabled son who is in a wheelchair and uses a Crelling harness. Always had priority boarding, then been the last off. Flying with Ryanair for 3rd time, and will not give us priority boarding. It takes two of us to get him on the plane. We go up in the ambulift in his own wheelchair, he is then transferred to the plane wheelchair. We then wait while my husband fits the Crelling harness which has to be adjusted to fit my son's seat from the row behind. My son is severely disabled physically and mentally. To try and get him into his seat with a plane full of passengers is my worst nightmare. Please advise

Our Response:
Ryanair's policy is: 'Customers who have limited mobility in the cabin or who are using therapeutic oxygen, an Amsafe, Crelling harness or Meru chair will be allocated a suitable seat onboard free of charge along with one travel companion. These customers will be boarded after general boarding is completed.' Please see link here . If this is the airline policy, unfortunately there is little you can do.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 6-Mar-18 @ 10:51 AM
We have flown before with our disabled son who is in a wheelchair and uses a Crelling harness. Always had priority boarding, then been the last off. Flying with Ryanair for 3rd time, and will not give us priority boarding. It takes two of us to get him on the plane. We go up in the ambulift in his own wheelchair, he is then transferred to the plane wheelchair. We then wait while my husband fits the Crelling harness which has to be adjusted to fit my son's seat from the row behind. My son is severely disabled physically and mentally. To try and get him into his seat with a planefull of passengers is my worst nightmare. Please advise
D - 5-Mar-18 @ 4:51 PM
I am a bariatric wheelchair user (I'm obese due to condition and medication). On good days I would be able to transfer from my wheelchair to an airline one but I'm concerned about the width of them and any weight restrictions. Does anyone have any experience of this issue please? I would love for hubby and I to go on our first holiday together somewhere in Europe but we are put off because of the accessibility issues. Thanks in advance, Tina
Tina - 21-Dec-17 @ 8:55 PM
Can an airline refuse to take a normal not poweredwheelchair? My daughter booked through a travel agent who now says the airline Cobalt air refuses to take her wheelchair! This seems against discrimination law.
Ned - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:50 AM
DONT EVER FLY EMIRATES IF YOU'RE DISABLED. THEY WILL CHARGE ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNTS JUST TO SIT NEAR THE ENTRANCE AND TOILETS. IT'S A TAX ON BEING DISABLED. THEY HAVE NO DEDICATEDDISABLED SUPPORT TEAM AND THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE KNOW NOTHING. I'VE BEEN ON THE PHONE FOR 2 HOURS.
Shail - 5-Oct-17 @ 3:28 PM
Hi on a recent flight from Bergen airport to Gatwick, Special assistance/airport staff failed to put my daughters wheelchair onto the aircraft.On arrival at Gatwick, when her chair wasnt brought to the aircraft, they found out it was left at the departure gate.She is 18 and a full time wheelchair user.She was travelling with a group of disabled athletes for the first time without her parents. She was left without her mobility for 2 days.This meant she had to be carried from the car into the house and either be carried around the house or drag her body.She has Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia and high functioning Autism.I have emailed Norwegian air and they have merely apologised but i dont think they are taking the complaint seriously enough.This should never happen and they are just treating it like delayed luggage.I would appreciate some advice on what i should do next.I have posted on Twitter and facebook and now emailed the CEO.I feel this needs to be dealt with by someone other than baggage complaints.People at the top need to know what happened
traveller - 19-Jul-17 @ 9:40 PM
Millsy - Your Question:
Hi don't know if anyone can help. I am a career I love my job andnlove making my service users happy. So now one of my service users and asked me to take them away )-;, which I would love nothing more than to fullfill this dream for her. The only problem is she is a electric wheel chair user and has no ability what so ever to walk or to transfer. She needs a hoist to do so. The equipment is not a problem has find a company that can provide that its the plane and finding a flight which will allow her to fly and stay in her chair for the whole duration does anybody know of any flights that do allow this or any suggestions that could help thanks in advance x

Our Response:
Since July 2007, airlines and tour operators may not refuse to carry passengers, or to take bookings, on the basis of reduced mobility. This applies only to flights from airports in the EU. Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 explains that a reservation or boarding can only be refused for justified safety reasons or if the boarding or transport of a person with a disability or reduced mobility is physically impossible, due to the size of the aircraft or its doors. You would have to contact each transport provider/airline directly to enquire about their own specific policy. Please also see gov.uk link here for more information and useful links.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 12-Jun-17 @ 10:41 AM
Hi don't know if anyone can help. I am a career I love my job andnlove making my service users happy. So now one of my service users and asked me to take them away )-;, which I would love nothing more than to fullfill this dream for her. The only problem is she is a electric wheel chair user and has no ability what so ever to walk or to transfer. She needs a hoist to do so. The equipment is not a problem has find a company that can provide that its the plane and finding a flight which will allow her to fly and stay in her chair for the whole duration does anybody know of any flights that do allow this or any suggestions that could help thanks in advance x
Millsy - 11-Jun-17 @ 10:22 AM
my daughter is in a wheel chair she needs to travel in her chair at all times is this poss on any airlines
madian - 5-Jun-17 @ 7:40 PM
I had a bad experience at Amsterdam airport. They confiscated my electric wheelchair at check in and made my son push me in a manual wheelchair instead because of "security". They seemed unable to understand the pain (no suspension or padding on their chair and the dimensions were incorrect for me), inconvenience, humiliation and degradation of having my lifeline whisked away from me.
CC - 10-May-17 @ 7:15 PM
I have heard conflicting reports, I am travelling for the first time with my manual wheelchair. Should I deflate the tyres before it is loaded into the hold of the aircraft (due to pressure at altitude)? Thank you in advance
C27 - 2-May-17 @ 4:10 PM
I'd just like to warn electric wheelchair users about security at Beijing airport, a nightmare as on my way home from Australia to the UK (in January '17) they wanted to confiscate my powerchair battery and would not allow me to unscrew the expensive chair-specific battery boxto remove the cheap generic batteries for them to confiscate. My carrier, Air China, didn't tell me about this before I took my chair overseas. Security may have been easier to go through if I'd had some or other battery power certificate from the airline, I never figured out exactly what they wanted and the airline had no idea either.
JG - 25-Apr-17 @ 10:57 PM
My brother is in a wheelchair and his wheel chair is 30 inches wide and he is trying to get on a plane from puerto rico to new jersey but we cannot find a plane that has an aisle thats 3p inches wide is there anyway that there will be able to find a plane that has a aisle thats 30 inches wide and what will the cost be
jazzy - 26-Mar-17 @ 7:26 PM
HI, Do you have any information about disability facilities on direct flights from India to London. I am essentially looking for flights that have wheel chair friendly toilets. I have tried to research this on the internet but not getting much luck. I am aware that BA purports to have wheel chair accessible toilets on their flights from India to the UK can you kindly confirm this? Are you aware of any other flights that may be accessible? Thanking you in anticipation. Regards, Rishi
Rishi - 20-Feb-17 @ 1:25 PM
Traveljunky- Your Question:
Hi I would like to take my daughter and son on holiday this year. My daughter is permanently in her wheelchair so I can't transfer her on a planes seat. What is our best destination to go to and airline to use. We are on a tight budget so a reasonable price range would be great. Thanks looking forward to your reply Traveljunky

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot recommend specific companies, but there are plenty to choose frm online. Also, there are sites such as Trip Advisor that may be able to help you assess others' opinions regarding where and where not to go. We hope you enjoy.
DisabledTravelAdvice - 6-Feb-17 @ 2:39 PM
Hi I would like to take my daughter and son on holiday this year. My daughter is permanently in her wheelchair so I can't transfer her on a planes seat. What is our best destination to go toand airline to use. We are on a tight budget so a reasonable price range would be great. Thanks looking forward to your reply Traveljunky
Traveljunky - 4-Feb-17 @ 7:46 PM
Do airlines re:Delta airlines, charge or offer free seats to escorts for disabled passages? If they do, does itinclude international travel re: Europe Italy for example. I am from Canada and it is offeredhere but only on in Canada flights. Any advice would be helpful.
winpub - 26-Dec-15 @ 4:36 PM
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