Traveling by air is a convenient and efficient way to get to your destination. However, for people with disabilities, getting through the airport, onto the plane, and reaching their destination can be more challenging. In this article, we will cover the basic information about how disabled passengers can fly, including what special assistance is available, what to expect during your flight, and what to do if something goes wrong.
Booking and Preparing for Your Flight
What Should I Consider When Booking my Flight?
When booking your flight, you should provide the airline with all the information regarding your disability. This includes the type of equipment you plan to bring with you, such as a wheelchair or scooter, and any other special assistance you may require. You should also inform the airline if you will be traveling with a service animal. Review the policies of the airline and make sure that they will meet your needs. You can also request seating accommodations, such as an aisle seat or additional legroom.
What Special Assistance is Available for Disabled Passengers?
Airlines are required to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities, including boarding and deplaning assistance, assistance with transferring to and from the plane seat, and assistance with stowing and retrieving carry-on items. Other assistance, such as wheelchair services, is available upon request. Be sure to let the airline know what type of assistance you need at least 48 hours before your flight.
What Information Should I Provide to the Airline When Booking my Flight?
When booking your flight, you should provide the airline with information about your disability and your travel needs. You can specify the type of equipment you require and any other accommodations you need. You should also inform the airline if you will be traveling with a service animal. It is essential to let the airline know if your disability prevents you from following FAA safety regulations or requires special medical attention during the flight.
Arriving at the Airport
What Should I Do When I Arrive at the Airport?
When you arrive at the airport, you should proceed to the check-in desk, inform the airline personnel that you need assistance, and provide them with your travel information. The airline will provide the services you require, such as wheelchair assistance or transport to the gate.
How Do I Board the Plane?
Boarding the plane is usually done in groups, with passengers with disabilities boarding first. You will receive assistance boarding if needed, and you will have the opportunity to locate your seat and stow your carry-on belongings.
What Happens to My Wheelchair or Scooter?
If you are traveling with a wheelchair or scooter, the airline will make arrangements for it to be stowed safely. You can either check it at the ticket counter or gate check it on the plane.
On the Flight
What Seating Accommodation is Available for Disabled Passengers?
Most airlines have aisle chairs that can be used to transport wheelchair users to their seats. They also offer adjustable seating, extra pillows, and blankets upon request. If you require additional assistance, such as help with eating or using the lavatory, the flight attendants are there to assist you.
What Assistive Devices are Available on the Plane?
Assistive devices such as onboard wheelchairs, canes, and crutches are available for use on the plane. Specialized seating accommodations, such as lengthened seat belts and transfer boards, and sign-language interpreters, are also available upon request.
What Should I Do if I Need Assistance During the Flight?
If you need assistance during the flight, you can request help from the flight attendants. It is best to let them know in advance if you require help with specific tasks or if you will need assistance when the plane lands.
After the Flight
What Special Assistance is Available to Help Me Find My Way Around the Airport?
Airports have a range of services for passengers with disabilities. These services include wheelchair assistance, transportation to connecting flights, and escort services. Be sure to let the airline know in advance if you require any of these services.
How Do I Get My Wheelchair or Scooter Back?
If you checked your wheelchair or scooter, it will be brought back to the gate or baggage claim after the flight. If it was gate-checked, it will be waiting for you at the gate.
What Should I Do if My Wheelchair or Scooter is Damaged During the Flight?
If your wheelchair or scooter is damaged during the flight, you should report the damage to the airline as soon as possible. Airlines are required to compensate passengers for any damage or loss to mobility devices.
Q: Can I fly with a wheelchair?
A: Yes, you can fly with a wheelchair. Airlines are required by law to provide accommodations for passengers with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Q: What should I do before my flight as a disabled traveler?
A: As a disabled traveler, it’s important to contact your airline in advance to request the accommodations you need such as special seating or assistance to board the plane. You should also make sure to bring any necessary medical devices and medications with you.
Q: Will my wheelchair or mobility scooter be damaged during the flight?
A: While airlines must take measures to ensure assistive devices are protected from damage, it’s possible for them to be damaged during the flight. If your wheelchair or mobility scooter is damaged, make sure to notify the airline immediately so they can provide assistance.
Q: Can I board the plane first as a disabled passenger?
A: Yes, disabled passengers typically have the option to board the plane first to allow for extra time and assistance in finding their seat and getting settled.
Q: What kind of seating accommodation is available for disabled passengers?
A: There are a variety of seating accommodations available for disabled passengers depending on their specific needs – from extra legroom to bulkhead seats to seats with movable armrests. Contact your airline in advance to discuss your needs.
Q: What assistance is available for getting on the plane as a disabled passenger?
A: Airline employees such as gate agents and flight attendants can help wheelchair users board the plane and provide assistance throughout the flight as needed.
Q: What should I do if I don’t receive adequate assistance from the airline?
A: If you don’t receive adequate assistance from the airline, you can file a complaint with the airline or the Department of Transportation. Airlines are responsible for providing assistance to passengers with disabilities and failing to provide adequate assistance can result in fines.
Q: What should I do if I need a wheelchair to help me get around the airport?
A: Contact your airline in advance to request a wheelchair or other assistive device to help you get around the airport. Airports also typically have wheelchairs available for use – just ask a customer service representative for assistance.
Q: How much advance notice do I need to give my airline as a disabled traveler?
A: Airlines typically request that travelers with disabilities give at least 48 hours notice in advance of their flight so they can ensure the necessary accommodations are in place. It’s best to give as much advance notice as possible.
Q: Are all airlines required to provide accommodations for disabled passengers?
A: Yes, all airlines are required to provide accommodations for disabled passengers under the Air Carrier Access Act. This includes accommodations such as boarding assistance, special seating, and assistance with medical devices.
Traveling by air for people with disabilities can seem daunting, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can be a positive experience. Airlines are required to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities, and airports have a range of services available to make air travel comfortable and efficient. By knowing what special assistance is available, what to expect during your flight, and what to do if something goes wrong, disabled passengers can make air travel a safe and enjoyable experience.