Traveling as someone living with a disability can be a little bit tricky, especially when it comes to flying. There are plenty of logistics to work out when someone who uses a wheelchair, walkers, or crutches is flying. Not only do you have to figure out what to do with your durable medical equipment while on the plane, but you also take on the ever-difficult task of finding the most affordable flight possible.
At Wheelchair Getaways, our goal is to make our clients’ travel experiences as easy and carefree as possible. While we aren’t in the airline industry, we do have plenty of tips for how to make your next flight easier for you and your family.
How Do I Find Cheap Flights that are Wheelchair Accessible?
Scott’s Cheap Flights is one of the greatest websites out there for finding cost-effective air travel options. Getting started is as simple as signing up for their email list which means you’ll receive regular emails with cheap deals for cities in the United States as well as countries around the world. After that, you just have to sit back, relax, and look out for the deal that best suits your needs.
In addition to helping their subscribers find the best deals, Scott’s Cheap Flights also does plenty of research on travel trends and provides their users with valuable information about what to expect while traveling, and this year is no different. After the difficulties and disappointments we all suffered in 2021, it’s no surprise that people are planning to do a lot of traveling in 2021 and 2022.
In fact, of those polled, 84% of respondents plan to travel internationally this year, and 93% plan to travel domestically. Despite COVID-19 concerns, 61% of people said they were feeling hopeful about their travel plans going forward.
Despite the fact that the world is opening back up again, many travelers are more interested in taking domestic trips within the U.S. than they are in going overseas. Over the last few months, people have been traveling to major cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando, or going camping, and visiting national parks like they never have before. Understandably, there’s also been a major uptick in trips to see family and friends in real life, after not having seen them for quite a while.
All of this is to say that travel is very much on people’s minds these days, and we’re sure it’s on yours as well! After all, being cooped up for over a year would leave anyone with the urge to get out and do a little exploring. If you’re ready to start making travel plans, Scott’s Cheap Flights is a great source for the best deals. And, once you get to your destination, you can count on Wheelchair Getaways for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle rental. With over 190 locations across the United States, we’ve got rentals to suit any needs or travel plans.
Preparing for Your Flight as a Wheelchair User
Once you book your flight, your very first step should be to get in touch with your airline’s special service team. You can find a list of phone numbers for each airline’s service team by clicking here.
Providing the airline with advance notice of your needs will give them enough time to make sure they take all the steps needed to accommodate you. If you need special assistance while in the airport, you should also let the airline know this in advance. Airlines are required to help guests who need help by:
- Assisting you from the terminal entrance through security, to your gate, and onto the aircraft.
- Assisting you from your seat on one flight to your seat on your connecting flight (if applicable).
- Upon arrival at your final destination, assisting you from your seat, to baggage claim, and to the terminal entrance or your vehicle pick-up location.
You should also let the airline know what kind of assistive device you may be using and ask what to expect while traveling with that device. Each airline should be able to tell you whether your device can be stored in overhead storage or whether it will need to be checked at the gate. Assistive devices that can be taken on aircraft include, but are not limited to:
- Wheelchairs (manual and powered)
- Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs)
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines
- Prescription medications and any medical devices need to administer those medications (syringes, etc.)
FAQs About Flying With a Disability
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to the whole experience of flying with a disability, these common questions may help you feel more at ease:
Q: Can I use my own assistive device while at the airport
A: Yes. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, passengers have the right to use their wheelchairs and other mobility devices while in the airport, right up until they get to the boarding door. After you board, your device will be gate-checked and must be returned to you in the jetway upon your arrival, even if you have a connecting flight.
Q: How will I get on the plane?
A: Once your boarding pass has been scanned and you’ve traveled to the boarding doors with your own mobility device, you will be able to transfer to an aisle chair. These are special mobility devices designed to get you to your seat safely, and airport personnel has been trained on how to help you transfer into and out of them. Even so, if you have any tips on how airport personnel can best accommodate your needs during a transfer, please don’t hesitate to let them know.
Q: How do I use the airplane bathroom?
A: If you aren’t able to navigate to the bathroom while the plan is in motion, many airlines will help you get there using an aisle chair. Contact your airline to find out whether your flight will have this option.
Q: Are airplane bathrooms wheelchair accessible?
A: The short answer is, sometimes. Under federal law, airlines are only required to equipped planes with wheelchair-accessible bathrooms if the aircraft is a wide-body plane with dual aisles. That said, there are some narrow-body planes that have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms as well.
We recommend you contact your airline for more information about your particular flight and, if there aren’t accommodations, you may want to speak to your doctor about catheterization depending on the duration of your flight.
Q: Will my wheelchair fit on the plane?
A: The size of an aircraft’s cargo hold depends on the model of the plane. You may need the airport staff to disassemble your wheelchair prior to it being loaded into the cargo hold. Come prepared with instructions for assembly and disassembly, and a large bag to put wheelchair components into while in the air.
Q: What happens if the airline damages my wheelchair or assistive device?
A: Airlines who damage mobility equipment are 100% liable for repairs or replacement up to 100% of the original purchase price. They must also accommodate you with a loaner device until your device can be repaired or replaced. Just remember, if your device is damaged in any way, you must report that damage immediately at the airline’s baggage office at the airport.
How to Rent a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Your Vacation
Our nationwide network of wheelchair-accessible vehicle rentals allows us to provide our clients with easy access and affordable rental rates. Making arrangements is quick and easy. All you need to do is find the location that’s closest to your destination, and get in touch with us to book your rental.
With so many people traveling again, rentals are booking up fast. According to Scott’s Cheap Flights, people polled about domestic travel are most interested in visiting the Pacific Northwest, mountainous areas, and the Southwest United States during 2021. If you’re looking to visit these areas, or anywhere else around the country, including Hawaii or Alaska, we’ve got a wheelchair-accessible vehicle for you. Visit our website or give us a call at 866-224-1750 to get a quote today.
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