Traveling with disabilities can be difficult, but the travel industry is starting to pay more attention to the needs of disabled travelers by offering better accommodations and services. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes sure that travelers with disabilities are given equal treatment under the law. This law does only apply to the USA, so it can be difficult if your travel plans include foreign countries because accessibility regulations will vary.
An electric wheelchair isn’t allowed on airplanes, but there are some stipulations. A power wheelchair isn’t allowed in the passenger cabin of the airplane. These chairs are too wide and heavy to use in the cabin, with the tight aisles that are found on airplanes. When you get to the gate with your power chair, you will be given a manual chair to transfer to. This means that you can then have mobility on the plane from the gate to your seat and for use while on the plane. Electric wheelchairs will then be stowed in the cargo luggage compartment. It doesn’t matter what airline you are flying; the U.S. Department of Transportation forbids charging an extra fee to stow the wheelchair.
To ensure proper care of your wheelchair, provide a copy of the owner’s manual in case flight crew members need to disassemble it. This can also help speed up the process of loading and unloading. Those with disabilities can board the plane before any other passengers, including those who have priority boarding. If you request it, an airline employee is required to assist. This may be the case if you are using a power wheelchair because you can’t push yourself with a manual chair. Once you land, you will be able to disembark before other passengers and your electric wheelchair will be returned to you as close as possible to the door. This could be at the gate or jet bridge. It should be returned to you in the same condition, fully assembled, and ready for you to resume your travels. Learn more about flying with a power wheelchair.
When taking any trip, planning ahead of time is crucial. Use the Americans with Disabilities Act website and the U.S. Department of State for resources. Calling ahead is helpful because you can be sure that the arrangements that are needed are ready for you. Be clear and specific when describing the disability when speaking with representatives. Give as many details about what you can’t and can do and don’t downplay the severity of your condition. The more information someone has, the better they can accommodate you.
Speak to your doctor before a trip. A doctor can help prescribe some tricks for coping with a long flight and can go over some of the other pitfalls of traveling. If you can, be sure to travel with a statement from your doctor that covers the conditions, any medications you are taking, potential complications, speech needs, and any other information that could come in handy. Be sure to have the number where a medical professional can be reached during an emergency at any time of the day. Be sure to bring along any extra medication you may need and keep these supplies in your carry-on bag. Also, ask your doctor or health care provider about any physician availability where you will be traveling in case you need one.