Wheelchair User's Air Travel Guide

Air travel is often a source of stress for many people, even for some of the most experienced travelers. This stress is compounded when traveling for the first time as a wheelchair user. Knowing the ins and outs of wheelchair air travel before your upcoming trip can relieve that stress and make the process as seamless as possible. Here is the Wheelchair User's Air Travel Guide.

Planning Ahead

Planning the details of your travel day ahead of time can help reduce stress and make your travel experience better overall. When traveling in a wheelchair there are certain things you can coordinate ahead of time with the airline to assure a smooth flight. Will you be traveling in your own personal wheelchair? Or will you be using the airport’s wheelchair? If you are traveling in your own wheelchair, make sure to let the airline know ahead of time which type of chair you will be using. In addition, if your airline allows passengers to select their seats, make sure to choose a seat with an adjustable armrest to make transferring from your chair to the seat easier. If the airline you’ve chosen does not have assigned seating, be sure to let the receptionist know when you arrive that you will need an accessible seat.


On your day of travel, be sure to arrive at the airport ahead of the normal arrival time. By allowing at least an extra hour to get checked in and through security you can reduce the likelihood of missing the flight because of a complication. Having extra time to check in, get through security and get to your gate can make your whole experience less stressful and gives you that extra time to deal with any unexpected issues. When you go through security. you’ll be asked if you can walk through the metal detector. If you are unable to, you are entitled to a private security screening where you and your chair will be screened using a wand and pat down. During this screening you legally have the option to have a companion with you, if you so choose.


Once you are through security, you’ll want to get to your gate and check things out before making any stops for the bathroom or refreshments. You will have priority seating so you and your party will be seated in the first group of people allowed to board the plane. Once you’ve found your gate, it would be wise to take a bathroom break as many airplane lavatories are not very handicap accessible. If you use a wheelchair but are able to walk short distances you will likely have no trouble in the plane’s lavatory. Once on board the plane make sure to let your flight attendant know if you are in need of anything. When your flight lands a flight attendant can help you get back to your wheelchair and off the plane. Should you experience any problems during your flight you can file a complaint with the airline so that they can improve their accessibility for future flights. Air travel can be stressful for anyone, but when you have limited mobility that stress can be compounded by the unknown. Wheelchair travel doesn’t have to be stressful if you know the ins and outs prior to your trip. If you have an upcoming trip and are in need of mobility solutions before you go, give us at Freedom Mobility a call today!

Madison Wine December 11, 2023
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