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Old Mar 31, 10, 12:36 am   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Wheelchair and Carry-Ons

I'm facing a new challenge on a couple of upcoming flights. I suffered bilateral PEs from my outbound flight, leaving me with hopefully only temporary reduced lung function. However, reduced it is, and I'm about to begin my flights home in stages.

I've requested wheelchair assistance for transport between check-in and boarding and upon debarking, but have two carry ons, neither of which I can check. One is now packed full of my injectable medications (it's 30 days until I will be in a situation to change to a pill form), and the other with electronics, valuables and other non-checkable items.

What is the best way to deal with this? I'm more than happy to have both bags on my lap (one is an under-seat duffel, the other a rollaboard), but is that appropriate? They do piggy back - can I wheel them beside me so the attendant doesn't have to try to juggle me and my bags?

I wish I could figure another solution, but mid-trip, and with the amount of medication and the space they take, I just don't see one.

Also, I'm entitled to use the international business lounge for my airline alliance. Is it acceptable to be asked to be taken there instead of the gate then request a later attendant to take me to the gate? I'll be arriving quite early to ensure plenty of time, and I'd be much more comfortable in lounge rather than the departure gate.

Your advice is much appreciated.
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Old Mar 31, 10, 8:01 am   #2
 
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I can't answer about the carryons, but I can answer about the lounge.

A fair number of times, in both AMS and IAD I have gone from either checkin or plane to lounge and then lounge to plane, and I have gotten wheelchair assistance both ways and no-one raised an eyebrow - everyone seemed to think this was standard. In fact, in AMS, when I did not have lounge access and I had a long layover, I was parked in a special area and they came back for me later.

So, go ahead, go to the lounge and continue onto your plane later.

Jaelle
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Old Mar 31, 10, 8:16 am   #3
 
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As far as the lounge; yes it is OK to ask for this.

As far as the 2 carry ons; it's easiest on everybody around (incl. you) if you can travel in such a way you can deal with the bags yourself during airport 'travel'. I always travel with at least 2 carry ons (have to lug along a fair amount of meds, medical supplies, some wheelchair parts etc.). What I do is use a standard carry on spinner trolley. Because of the fact it's a spinner (4 360 degrees turning wheels underneath) it is very easy to take along. I simply put it in front of my chair, both feet very loosely on both sides of the trolley. As my chair is being pushed, the carry on will naturally stay in place and drive the front of our little train. It puts no extra work on the pusher nor on me.

Bag 2; a backpack. Backpacks can be put on the back of a wheelchair. Simply put the right handle over the right part of the seatback and left handle over the left. Et voilą; again no extra work during the walk for pusher or yourself. Be aware though! If such a bag has quite some weight in it, combined with a lightweight wheelchair; you will want to remove the bag before leaving the chair yourself! If you don't; the chair will tip over for sure.

One way of preventing that; park the chair with it's back against the wall, lock the breaks and then transfer out of it. Works like a charm for bathroom breaks etc.

I would not advice wheeling any bag besides you. It puts strain on the wrists and arms, has a higher risk of the bag going to the left if you go right and vice versa. Also others tend to knock into it much easier, where as that is no problem with the bag in front of you.

If need be, the person pushing you could juggle both you and bag(s) but it really isn't something you should want to do if in any way avoidable. Paying attention and holding on to both bag and chair tends to result in some deviding of attention. I've seen it happen all too many times where a person pusching was trying to pull along a carry on with one hand, that going to one side and trying to push a wheelchair with the other hand, going to the other side.
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Old Mar 31, 10, 1:22 pm   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingwheels View Post
As far as the 2 carry ons; it's easiest on everybody around (incl. you) if you can travel in such a way you can deal with the bags yourself during airport 'travel'. I always travel with at least 2 carry ons (have to lug along a fair amount of meds, medical supplies, some wheelchair parts etc.). What I do is use a standard carry on spinner trolley. Because of the fact it's a spinner (4 360 degrees turning wheels underneath) it is very easy to take along. I simply put it in front of my chair, both feet very loosely on both sides of the trolley. As my chair is being pushed, the carry on will naturally stay in place and drive the front of our little train. It puts no extra work on the pusher nor on me.
I do wish I could adjust my bags to another configuration, but because this happened during my trip, I'm forced to deal with what I have. However, I do think I should be able to wheel the bags in front of me with little problem. At least I'll try that. My rollaboard isn't a wheelie, but is easy to maneuver.

Appreciate the advice and info on this and the lounge.

Anyone else with helpful hints for the carry-ons?
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Old Mar 31, 10, 5:42 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Hi, I recently travelled MAN to AUH to JNB with my wheelchair. Initially I only had one carry on; soft sides with handles which I hung by the handles over the chair handles. Being a bit of a shopaholic, I did some duty free shopping and carried this rather large bag on my knee. The pusher had no problems.

As flyingwheels mentions, do take care if you sling a bag over the handles, that it is not too heavy so that you don't overweight the chair and make it tip if you stand up.

Good luck. I am sure you will manage just fine.
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Old Apr 1, 10, 9:11 am   #6
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A wheelchair using guy on one of my flights had a medium size duffle bag that he somehow managed to sling under the chair. I'm not sure how he did it - he may have had an under chair catch all. No center of gravity problems for him.

I guess my helpful hint would be to try to consolidate things as much as possible so that you don't have to keep track of a million separate pieces. Like, I have a small bag that is my purse-equivalent that lives under my chair; when I'm flying I make sure there's enough space in my backpack to stuff it in when I board the plane so I don't have to worry about three things (backpack, under-chair bag, cushion), only two. Bags that snap or strap together are good.
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Old Apr 2, 10, 8:33 am   #7
 
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I don't have many suggestions, because I usually do not travel alone, but trying to roll the bag in front of your chair while being pushed does not soundv like it's going to work. The bag usually wants to go this-a-way while you want to go that-a-way.
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Old Apr 3, 10, 6:54 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
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I've balanced my 22 in. rollaboard between my feet on the wheelchair footrests, and held my small bag on my lap with no problem. You can't have anything on your lap during takeoff and landing. Put the large bag in the overhead and keep necessities in the smaller bag on the floor.

Last edited by Georgia Peach; Apr 3, 10 at 7:05 pm..
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Old Apr 4, 10, 9:04 pm   #9
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Most people put their rollerboard between their legs and place their smaller bag on their lap with no problem. One note, just make sure you don't overpack your rollerboard making it too heavy for you to lift into the overhead.
Good luck with your travels and best wishes for a speedy recovery!
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Old Apr 6, 10, 11:38 am   #10
 
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All of the US airports we have used in the last six months have had a new type of wheelchair. They are bright red, and designed more like a pushcart than a wheelchair. You enter the wheelchair from the side and then lower the arm rest. It is much easier than managing the foot rests from a front entry. The thing I like best about these new devices is that there is a rack under the seat to stow carry-on luggage. It holds my roll-aboard and my C-Pap.

I hope most airports convert to these devices soon. In the meantime, I have put almost everything on my lap. Roll-aboard goes first, then C-Pap and then my personal purse. Often I cannot see anything in front of me, but if someone else is pushing then forward views are not really necessary. I have put a long strap on my C-Pap so it can hang from the handles of the wheelchair leaving only my roll-aboard to sit on my lap.
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