my wife has,among many other ailments,Osteoarthritis in her hips knee(s) and ankles.She had her right knee replaced 4 years ago and whilst the joint now works she has even more pain which the surgeon can do nothing about.
In the past we've used the airport provided wheelchair and pusher to get from check in to the lounge then aircraft etc etc.I have now purchased our own wheelchair(for use when we get to our holiday destination )to go with the motorised "scooter" she's had for years.I have told the airline (BA) that I would like to check our wheelchair in and still use the airport provided chair and pusher as I cannot look after my wife and drag 2 pieces of hand luggage(these are max size and weight as my wife is also Asthmatic and takes a portable nebuliser as well as the usual stuff)
Firstly do you(people with experience of such things) think this is the best course of action? or should we keep our chair and just ask for a "pusher"
And secondly: if I checki our chair in are there any precautions I should take to secure any "loose bits" like the footrests for example.
Thirdly: Any words of wisdom on the subject of travelling with your own chair.
Jul 17, 12, 4:53 pm
Have travelled with my own chair. Always check the chair for damage BEFORE leaving the airport. I usually detach the footrests and ask the crew to keep them in a cupboard ( wont put them in the overhead in case they fall put and hit someone).
Jul 17, 12, 4:57 pm
I hope I cover all of your questions. I think there are some links in one of the stickies in this forum too. I'll just describe my typical experience.
I use my own chair and ask for them to push it, while my wife or kids carry my stuff. I usually get brought to the front of the security line, where the agent checks me separately from the regular line since I can't stand or walk through the machines. My family is always with me, and they get directed to cut in the front of the line to go through the machines. They meet me on the other side, and we continue to the gate.
At the gate, I ask for gate check tag to be put on the chair. I always make sure the tag is attached to the frame, or other non-removeable part of the chair, so that if the removeable part gets removed, broken, or lost, the chair will still have the tag on it. They can push it all the way to the plane door, if necessary.
The chair can possibly be stored in the onboard closet (best) or someone will take it down to be stored in the cargo hold of the plane. Whenever we get to the airplane door, we remove arms and leg rests from my chair and put them in a small backpack which we carry on the plane. I do this because, on my chair, they appear to be too easy to break. That depends on the chair, though. You're allowed to carry on the extra bag of medical equipment. I keep the backpack folded and in my main carry on bag until we need it.
I don't know if your wife will walk from there to her seat. I transfer to the airplane's aisle wheelchair and am assisted to my seat. Same thing upon arrival at the destination.
On arrival at the destination, my chair is usually waiting right by the aircraft door. There have been times when I can only get it at baggage claim, but that's only happened with international flights. In those cases, they have an airport chair waiting for me. They push me to bag claim, and out to my car, or taxi. The wheelchair pushers expect to be tipped, which I sometimes do, despite my opposition to tipping them. Be prepared for that. (That's in the US that I'm referring to).
I just described the typical experience I have in both the US and Europe. There may be other info I could share if you're talking about a specific place. The typical experience is pretty much the same everywhere I have traveled, but it might be different in other countries. In some countries they might require the wheelchair to be checked as baggage, but I have yet to need that. I prefer to stay in my own chair, which has been measure to fit me. Airport chairs are no good for me. Your wife may be different though.
Jul 18, 12, 11:21 pm
My experience is very similar to DeafFlyer's. I travel with my own, light, collapsible, travel wheelchair. When I travel with my husband, we arrive at the airport, and he takes care of our baggage, while a wheelchair pusher gets me to the check-in area. Since we usually travel in Business or First, there is usually no wait time, though we would bypass the lines in any event. We check in the check-in baggage there, but treat the wheelchair as a carry-on. We then either go to the lounge (if it's before security) or go through security.
To go through security is a hassle, so we give ourselves plenty of time for this process. I cannot walk through the metal detector barefoot, so I need a pat-down. This requires finding a TSA agent, so it takes a bit of time. My husband goes through the normal procedure, and keeps an eye on our things, while I go through the pat down.
We may then go to the lounge for a bit. I always make it a point to use the ladies' room in the lounge. Obvious reasons.
At the gate, we gate check the wheelchair. Like DeafFlyer, make sure the tag is placed on a non-removable part of the chair. We pre-board, and ask that that the chair be placed in the on-board closet reserved for that purpose, if it is available. Otherwise, the chair will be stowed in the cargo hold. I walk, with assistance, to my seat (usually 1A or 1B -- not too far from the door). My husband removes the footrests and seatcushion, and places them in a special bag. If the chair is going in the cargo hold, he makes sure to watch as it is taken from the jetway -- we don't want it to remain, forgotten, on the jetway at our departure airport.
Upon arrival, we are the last to disembark. We await the arrival of the wheelchair at the jetway (even on international flights).
As to tipping, it is definitely expected and appropriate in the US, and appreciated in Canada. It seems to be less of an issue in Western Europe. Tipping in Latin America definitely seems to be the norm.
Jul 19, 12, 10:32 am
Thank you all for your informative replies.I get the feeling keeping our chair till the last moment is best and gate check it as we board. We are flying business class as usual and will take advantage of the lounge facilities but I will be able to push my wife round the shops to break up the time we're there as we are likely to be in the airport long before we need to be.