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Old May 30, 04, 5:33 pm   #1
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Tips for Wheelchair Passengers

I am a flight attendant based in Atlanta. I'd like to share a few tips that may make your travels a little easier.

1. When you make reservations, tell them you need a wheelchair. Also, tell the gate agent. If you do not let them know and you get off the aircraft at the end of your trip, don't just 'take' one of the wheelchairs on the jetway. The Captain calls ahead for the number of wheelchairs requested on the flight and they are there for that person(s). It's like renting a car, if you didn't ask for it, it's for someone else.

2. When you get to the gate or ticket counter at the airport and you tell them you need a wheelchair, it is assumed that you are able to walk from the aircraft door to your seat. Remember, the wheelchair will not fit down the aircraft aisle. If you are not able to walk to you seat, tell them you need an aisle chair. This is a special chair made to fit down the aisle. It also requires additional personnel, so advise as soon as possible.

3. People with special needs and business class travelers are boarded first, so get there extra early. It makes it much easier to get to your seat if you don't have to climb over other passengers.

4. There are a limited number of wheelchairs at the airport. It is a long way from D concourse to the baggage claim so you may have to wait. Make sure you tell the flight attendants/gate agents if you have a connecting flight or going to baggage claim. Different contractors may be handling Atl or connections.

5. Because wheelchairs are limited, assess your needs. This is not meant to be critical in any way, but ask yourself if you are able to walk to the end of the jetway and wait for the wheelchair at that point. Could you use the electric cart instead of the wheelchair. This will save you time and free up others who must use a wheelchair. I recently had a passenger in her early 30's who wanted a wheelchair because her baby was heavy and she didn't want to walk to the next concourse. Get REAL!

Realize we're all doing the best we can. It's in everyone's best interest to get you off the airplane and on your way as soon as possible.
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Old May 31, 04, 10:24 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helpu2fly
I am a flight attendant based in Atlanta. I'd like to share a few tips that may make your travels a little easier.

1. When you make reservations, tell them you need a wheelchair. Also, tell the gate agent. If you do not let them know and you get off the aircraft at the end of your trip, don't just 'take' one of the wheelchairs on the jetway. The Captain calls ahead for the number of wheelchairs requested on the flight and they are there for that person(s). It's like renting a car, if you didn't ask for it, it's for someone else.
Excellent advice.

Quote:
2. When you get to the gate or ticket counter at the airport and you tell them you need a wheelchair, it is assumed that you are able to walk from the aircraft door to your seat. Remember, the wheelchair will not fit down the aircraft aisle. If you are not able to walk to you seat, tell them you need an aisle chair. This is a special chair made to fit down the aisle. It also requires additional personnel, so advise as soon as possible.
Again, good advice. However, I would suggest dropping the assumptions. Every disability is different. Agents should be trained to ask if an aisle chair is needed and/or if assistance is needed in transferring from the aisle chair to the seat.

Another thing. I have called in advance, also informed the check-in agent, and told the gate agen t that I needed an aisle chair and still when I got to the door of the aircraft they were surprised I needed one. It does happen. That happened to me on my very first wheelchair flight.

Quote:
3. People with special needs and business class travelers are boarded first, so get there extra early. It makes it much easier to get to your seat if you don't have to climb over other passengers.
Good advice.

Quote:
4. There are a limited number of wheelchairs at the airport. It is a long way from D concourse to the baggage claim so you may have to wait. Make sure you tell the flight attendants/gate agents if you have a connecting flight or going to baggage claim. Different contractors may be handling Atl or connections.
Good advice.

Quote:
5. Because wheelchairs are limited, assess your needs. This is not meant to be critical in any way, but ask yourself if you are able to walk to the end of the jetway and wait for the wheelchair at that point. Could you use the electric cart instead of the wheelchair. This will save you time and free up others who must use a wheelchair. I recently had a passenger in her early 30's who wanted a wheelchair because her baby was heavy and she didn't want to walk to the next concourse. Get REAL!
True but do realize that many disabled people can't get on those carts. We're not trying to make your job more difficult, it's just a fact of life. We'd love to use the cart, if we could.

Quote:
Realize we're all doing the best we can. It's in everyone's best interest to get you off the airplane and on your way as soon as possible.
We do appreciate the work that you do. At least I do.
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Old Oct 9, 04, 11:17 pm   #3
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Electric Carts?

My parents need help with going from one concourse to the other to catch their connecting flights. They are still mobile but walks very slow so taking an electric cart will make it a lot easier for them to catch their connecting flights. How does one arrange for this rather?
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Old Oct 10, 04, 8:15 am   #4
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Most of us have seen the 'miracle' flights in Florida

where a very large number of people 'require' wheelchairs to get to their flight and then get up and walk all over the airplane and walk off at their destination. This trend is growing all the time. I don't get it. Do most of these folks think they get a better seat on the plane? An easier trip through security? Better service?

I walk slowly, but I make my own way. I make sure that I have a lot of connection time. Especially with long days of flying, I feel the walk does me good. I believe in saving the wheel chairs for the folks who really need them. They aren't toys or time savers for the general public.
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Old Oct 10, 04, 7:35 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeafFlyer
Another thing. I have called in advance, also informed the check-in agent, and told the gate agen t that I needed an aisle chair and still when I got to the door of the aircraft they were surprised I needed one. It does happen. That happened to me on my very first wheelchair flight.
The aisle chair is a funny thing.

It's in my profile with my company, which means my company travel agency theoretically notifies the airline when they make the reservation.

A day before I fly, I usually call the airline myself and tell them I need an aisle chair.

When I check in, if possible, I tell the reservation agent that I need an aisle chair (but I don't hang around specifically in order to do this).

When I get to the gate, early, I tell the gate agent I need an aisle chair.

How often do you think it's a surprise to the gate agent?

Right. Every time. Makes me wonder why I bother, since I could get the same results by skipping the first three times.

A couple of flights ago, the gate agent scolded me for not getting the attention of the check-in agent. Frankly, I'm going to use the self-service check-in. I'm usually there long enough for a check-in agent to see me - if they want to ask me about it, they have the opportunity; I don't see why I should waste my time trying to get their attention.

One thing helpu2fly didn't mention is getting a gate check tag for your own wheelchair. In the last 5-6 months, Frontier has intermittently insisted on waiting until just before boarding to issue a gate check tag, presumably so that I don't have time to hand it to a terrorist. United is still happy to give me one when I ask for it.
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Old Oct 11, 04, 12:05 pm   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helpu2fly
I am a flight attendant based in Atlanta. I'd like to share a few tips that may make your travels a little easier.

1. When you make reservations, tell them you need a wheelchair.
First off, welcome to Flyertalk! It's so nice when airline professionals participate here in FT. It's just great getting your perspectives.

I have a follow-up question to what you stated above. How can you get a wheelchair if you buy your tickets online? Is there an easy procedure for this? Also would this vary depending upon the airline you call? Thanks.
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Old Oct 11, 04, 4:32 pm   #7
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It may vary depending on the airline, but the easiest wayAFAIK is to call in to Reservations and let them know
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Old Oct 11, 04, 6:18 pm   #8
 
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After I buy an online ticket, I call reservations and notify them. I do it again 24 to 48 hours before flight to make sure.

Some websites for ticketing have an option to notify the airline you need a chair. This doesn't tell them if you can walk or not, just that you use a chair.
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Old Oct 12, 04, 6:16 am   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cja
My parents need help with going from one concourse to the other to catch their connecting flights. They are still mobile but walks very slow so taking an electric cart will make it a lot easier for them to catch their connecting flights. How does one arrange for this rather?
In my experience,, you can request it in your reservation, remind them on check in, remind them at the departing gate, remind the flight attendent, and still have to request it when you get to the top of the jetway.
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Old Jan 31, 05, 4:13 pm   #10
 
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Does the person who brings the aisle chair also help transfer the passenger into his/her seat? We'll be transferring my ailing father who needs a wheelchair and an aisle chair and are wondering if one strong family member is enough to travel with him in First Class from FLL-ATL.
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Old Jan 31, 05, 4:24 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jac747
Does the person who brings the aisle chair also help transfer the passenger into his/her seat? We'll be transferring my ailing father who needs a wheelchair and an aisle chair and are wondering if one strong family member is enough to travel with him in First Class from FLL-ATL.
Two employees assist with aisle chair boarding; one pulls (getting on the plane) or pushes (getting off the plane) the aisle chair, the other assists with lifting the aisle chair over the gap/step between the jetway and the aircraft. At the seat, both will lift the passenger if necessary.

Generally these folks are not trained in safe transfers - they will lift under the shoulders and knees unless directed to do otherwise.

For first class seating remember that the passenger cannot slide between the aisle and window seat - it's very difficult to lift into the window seat, so get an aisle. Frequently the flight attendant/purser is more use in figuring out if the aisle seat arm can be raised than anyone else.

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Old Feb 17, 05, 7:34 pm   #12
 
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wheel chair bound

Thanks for this info. My mother requires a wheelchair and will require an aisle chair.
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