Disability Travel - How do they board people who can't ascend stairs from the tarmac?
Mar 28, 09, 8:22 pm
My mother will be flying on an Embraer rj145 regional jet soon and she's worried about how she will board the plane.
I was told by the airline that they will have people to assist her on and off the plane. But she can't climb stairs and the pictures of this jet that I have seen show stairs on the back of the door that passengers use to board.
Does anyone know how the airline can possibly get disabled people on and off this jet? Especially elderly people that can't walk up or down stairs? If there is some apparatus they use, I would like to know what it is called so that I can search the internet for a picture of it to show her. If there is such a thing, I would also like to know how it works.
She is very nervous about the stairs and I would really appreciate any help in understanding how the airline can get her safely on and off the jet.
Thanks in advance.
They strap the person into a wheelchair and a few employees lift them up the stairs. Or at least they can. Make certain to alert the carrier that this will be necessary.
It also depends on the airport as some do have jetway access for the RJs.
Mar 28, 09, 9:07 pm
Mom was once lifted by a fork lift to get on a small plane from the tarmac. She is mobile but cannot climb stairs. Embarrassed the heck out of her but got her on board.
Mar 28, 09, 9:11 pm
Many thanks sbm12! So I invision her in a wheel chair with one person behind and one person in front carrying her in the wheelchair up the stairs and then down when they land.
The travel agent informed the carrier about her needing help and I also called them about it.
I have a call into the carrier noe to find out if they will be using a jetway or not.
Mar 28, 09, 9:31 pm
some have a thin, wheeled chair with a tall back that makes it quite easy to board pax who can't climb the stairs....
Most US-based RJs I have flown in recent years (I am a full time wheelchair user, don't do stairs) have been equipped with a metal ramp, generally with two switchbacks. No problem getting from the tarmac to the plane via the ramp using a wheelchair. The ramp is rolled up to the plane just like (instead of) the stairs.
Besides the ramp, there are several other alternatives to being hand-carried in a wheelchair or aisle chair (which I would strongly discourage for safety reasons). The alternatives include using a sky bridge, which is a little portable jetway on a hydraulic lift, or using the catering cart lift.
Mar 29, 09, 2:27 pm
I've been carried up and down the steps on commuter aircraft, 737's, MD80's and once on a 747. I've lived to tell about it. I can tell you that if at all possible try to avoid it. All it takes is one person to slip and bam!, you are on the "express elevator" down! I now book flights to try and avoid this. Last summer, the worst very nearly happened to me.
They won't, or shouldn't, use a regular wheelchair for this (they are not designed for that). They use a special kind of chair. The chair is a very narrow chair that will fit down the aisles of the plane. They will strap her onto it with two people liftng it up a step or two at a time. Once on board they will continue straight to the seat.
There are other options. Try hard to use one of the other options.