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Old Aug 11, 04, 10:38 pm   #1
 
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Recommendations for disabled/elderly transport?

My wife and I are planning to have her dad come live with us. He's fairly lucid but is confined to a wheelchair--partial leg amputation and a metal replacement knee. After seeing the "Airline" episode where granny was being denied boarding because of her O2, I wanted to find out which airline I should consider for his transport. I read a little about Frontier Airlines and it looks like they have a special department to help make such arrangements? Would First Class be a good idea for this adventure? I think she's going to fly out mid-week (in Sept or Oct) and I'll go out on Friday or Saturday, then the 3 of us will fly back on a Sunday or Monday.

We haven't bought his personal wheelchair yet, but I've seen that some airports/airlines now have the transport chairs available that will fit down the plane aisle? When the airport wheelchair agents remove a pax from the plane, what's the limit for them? Will they take the pax all the way to the baggage claim area or just to the edge of the airside? I was thinking that we could get him a chair and have it in the car and when we return, she could get the car from the lot while I get the luggage...
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Old Aug 12, 04, 8:05 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesing
My wife and I are planning to have her dad come live with us. He's fairly lucid but is confined to a wheelchair--partial leg amputation and a metal replacement knee. After seeing the "Airline" episode where granny was being denied boarding because of her O2, I wanted to find out which airline I should consider for his transport. I read a little about Frontier Airlines and it looks like they have a special department to help make such arrangements? Would First Class be a good idea for this adventure? I think she's going to fly out mid-week (in Sept or Oct) and I'll go out on Friday or Saturday, then the 3 of us will fly back on a Sunday or Monday.
I don't know much about flying with O2, but I do know that all airlines (US) have some way to transport him. The Air Carrier Access Act has a part about that.

Quote:
We haven't bought his personal wheelchair yet, but I've seen that some airports/airlines now have the transport chairs available that will fit down the plane aisle? When the airport wheelchair agents remove a pax from the plane, what's the limit for them? Will they take the pax all the way to the baggage claim area or just to the edge of the airside? I was thinking that we could get him a chair and have it in the car and when we return, she could get the car from the lot while I get the luggage...
The airlines have aisle chairs and plain old hospital type chairs. The aisle chairs are usually only use from aircraft door to seat and back. Only once did I ride an aisle chair to baggage claim. That was due to mobile lounge at Dulles. IAD. The airline/airport chairs are used from street to gate or vice versa, using a wheelchair pusher. You would need to arrange for it in advance by calling airline more than 48 hours in advance. Be aware the pusher will expect a tip. You could push the chair yourself.

That said, if he has his own wheelchair, he can use that to the gate. They gate check it and he gets it back at gate on arrival.

The guys who get you off the plane are usually different from the guy who pushes the chair out to baggage claim or pick up zone.

Does this helP? If not, let us know.
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Old Aug 12, 04, 10:07 am   #3
 
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I was just wondering about that myself. My parents will be moving down to live with me. Dad is on O2 and not entirely ambulatory.

We had considered air ambulance, but now I'm starting to think he might make it on an airline. We can drive 2 hrs to FNT, get him a seat in F/C, and NW has a direct flight to TPA. The route has very few elites, so I've almost always gotten upgrade. I will plan on getting an U/G. And I think we can either buy an upgrade for mom at the gate, or I can beg the flight attendant to let mom up front. I think if you don't want to pay for F/C, you can request & get the bulkhead row in coach.

NW said they have their own O2 we have to use, limited supply, must reserve 10 days in advance and there's a $100 charge. I think the wheelchairs will work out OK, but I'll have to call again.
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Old Aug 12, 04, 3:34 pm   #4
 
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Thanks! That was a big help...I think what we may do is buy his wheelchair and have it shipped to a friend who lives in the area. That way we'll have it for transporting him to the airport and to/from the planes.
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Old Aug 13, 04, 7:18 am   #5
 
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Off topic:

What kind of wheelchair will you buy? He should be "fitted" for one. (a Physical Therapist should measure him and reccomend the r i ght chair) Also if you expect him to sit in the chair for hours at a time, consider a seat cushion made by Jay (Sunrise Medical), Roho low profile, or Invacare. (Therapist will know about this). It hurts to sit in a chair too long everyday.
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Old Aug 14, 04, 6:15 am   #6
 
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Does anyone know who would make the decision of air ambulance vs commercial jet? I met with mom & nursing supervisor @ my dad's nursing home. At first we assumed dad would go air ambulance. But then I got thinking he could probably take a direct flight.

Air Ambulance:
$10K - $12K for dad plus 2 family members, can take 3 small bags.

Includes ground ambulance to/from both airports with oxygen, about 20 min ground ambulance @ each end. 3 hour flight on Lear Jet or similar, including oxygen & RN. Medicare may reimburse for the ground ambulance.

Commercial:
$1K for F/C for dad including O2 and coach seats for mom & me, I always get upgraded on this NW route. Mom can probably sit in first row of coach, or maybe I can beg F/A to let her sit in F/C with us.

We can arrange 2 hour car ride to FNT, will need to arrange for O2 during car ride. NW can pick him up curbside, not sure if their O2 would arrive curbside. NW flight is 2 1/2 hours unless we make unscheduled fuel stop in GSP or JAX. Then we would need incontinence pad on seat although I think that's unlikely to be needed. I could help him (hold up blanket) if he needs to use his urinal. Then we can have someone meet us @ airport with O2 & his wheelchair.

If he has to go to the bathroom in the terminal, since mom and I will be the only ones with him, would I wheel him into the ladies' room? the mens' room (I wouldn't be embarrased)? find a NW agent to wheel him in? I think he might be able to wheel himself in & out...... Yesterday he wouldn't even let me help him from wheelchair to bed although I'm capable. He waited for aide from nursing home.

Do the financial considerations usualy rule? Do airlines usually evaluate condition before they accept a passenger? Should I check with doctor? What if we can afford either? Dad may balk at spending that much more for air ambulance.
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Last edited by MsEverywhere; Aug 14, 04 at 6:53 am.. Reason: Correct JAX, added bathroom question
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Old Aug 14, 04, 8:07 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEverywhere
Does anyone know who would make the decision of air ambulance vs commercial jet?
I would think the airline would be able to tell you if they can transport him or not.

Quote:
If he has to go to the bathroom in the terminal, since mom and I will be the only ones with him, would I wheel him into the ladies' room? the mens' room (I wouldn't be embarrased)? find a NW agent to wheel him in? I think he might be able to wheel himself in & out...... Yesterday he wouldn't even let me help him from wheelchair to bed although I'm capable. He waited for aide from nursing home.
Some terminals have a special restroom for disabled. I tend to look for them. I don't know if DTW has one or not?

Quote:
Do the financial considerations usualy rule? Do airlines usually evaluate condition before they accept a passenger? Should I check with doctor? What if we can afford either? Dad may balk at spending that much more for air ambulance.
Definitely check with the Doctor. He or she will be best person to answer. If the doc says he can fly commercial then that's probably the way to go, unless you've got plenty of money.

Sorry that I can't help more.
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Old Aug 14, 04, 6:16 pm   #8
 
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If we go commercial, we would leave from FNT. As far as I know, it only has 2 restrooms inside security - one mens' and one womens'. I think my dad could wheel himself into the mens' room. I'll look around for a handicapped one when I'm there tomorrow.

Thanks for all the ideas.
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Old Aug 18, 04, 6:49 pm   #9
 
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OK, I have a little more info. NW airline only supplies oxygen on the plane. So we would need our own oxygen at the departure airport (FNT) and arrival (TPA). His doc will sign an order for his in-flight oxygen.

His doctor said he can go commercial jet, so that is my target. NW said that someone on oxygen would usually be assigned a window seat. I thought that since he's not real ambulatory, an aisle seat would be better. And I could sit next to him in window seat and climb over him if necessary. Or if a light load, I could sit in aisle seat across from him.

The plane is a NW DC9-30. I thought first class would be more comfortable for him than coach. But some of the coach seats have the aisle armrest that folds up so it might be easier for him to get into a coach seat than first class. Do they usually put disabled folks in the bulkhead rows? I don't like bulkhead personally, so I never noticed if they have more legroom.

I'll be on the same plane this weekend so I'll investigate & ask F/A.

Any ideas?
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Old Aug 18, 04, 7:21 pm   #10
 
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I've been on NW planes where the FC NON-BULKHEAD seats fold up as well. I think all the non-bulkhead seats on the DC-9 fold up, both coach and FC. I would call NW and double check though.

Bulkheads DEFINATELY have more legroom. But the arms don't fold up. If you can, try to snag 6-D. It has unlimited legroom and no seat in front of it. Its still a "bulkhead" type seat that doesn't have a fold up armrest though.

Check out http://www.seatguru.com/ for seatmaps.
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Old Aug 18, 04, 7:37 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mat123
I've been on NW planes where the FC NON-BULKHEAD seats fold up as well. I think all the non-bulkhead seats on the DC-9 fold up, both coach and FC. I would call NW and double check though.

Bulkheads DEFINATELY have more legroom. But the arms don't fold up. If you can, try to snag 6-D. It has unlimited legroom and no seat in front of it. Its still a "bulkhead" type seat that doesn't have a fold up armrest though.

Check out http://www.seatguru.com/ for seatmaps.
WOW!

Thanks for the quick response. When I'm in coach I always reserve 12-B, never noticed 6-D. That would be best for positioning him in the seat. But I guess I'll have to get more info on the NW oxygen they supply. I don't know if it's something that has a "footprint" that they have to put on the floor, and that's why they said he would have to have a window seat.
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Old Aug 19, 04, 8:22 am   #12
 
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if he's not ambulatory consider a window seat and this: http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/st...berId=12500226

or http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/st...berId=12500226

It will be more private and easier to cover up in a window seat.

Just a thought, based on experience.
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Old Aug 21, 04, 12:27 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeafFlyer
if he's not ambulatory consider a window seat and this: http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/st...berId=12500226

or http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/st...berId=12500226

It will be more private and easier to cover up in a window seat.

Just a thought, based on experience.
DeafFlyer,

Thanks for the info, I ordered one of these. Hope it gets here before we travel. Right now we're targeting Sept 11 or 12. My folks aren't too worried about WTC anniversary.

My dad's doctor said he's OK to fly commercial and wrote an order for the oxygen. He said all I need to worry about is getting him to stand up a little to prevent thrombosis. Is that a big problem? I've heard about it, know everyone is susceptible but maybe elderly non-ambulatory are more susceptible?

I'm leaning towards taking him on commercial flight in first class. He can't have bulkhead because he will have large oxygen tanks that have to fit under the seat in front.

I think for his O2 rate (3.0 L, which doc said should be .5 L greater than on ground) and the length of the flight (2:17 if we don't make fuel stop in GSP or JAX, maybe 4:00 if we do) he would need at least 2 bottles, maybe 3. So those would fit better under F/C seat. I saw where it looks like the F/C armrests fold up if necessary, and I would sit in window next to him, or aisle across since loads are usually light. And I could hold up a blanket around him for privacy.

But dad is concerned about standing and possibly needing to walk on a commercial plane. So he thinks he wants an air ambulance now. He's never used a walker in the nursing home yet, would a walker help him stand & walk? I think if he just got up & rested his rear end on his arm rest, that it would be sufficient to prevent thrombosis. I could get one of those cloth lifting straps and put it around his chest and hold onto it while he's standing up.
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Old Aug 23, 04, 9:45 am   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsEverywhere
DeafFlyer,

My dad's doctor said he's OK to fly commercial and wrote an order for the oxygen. He said all I need to worry about is getting him to stand up a little to prevent thrombosis. Is that a big problem? I've heard about it, know everyone is susceptible but maybe elderly non-ambulatory are more susceptible?

I'm leaning towards taking him on commercial flight in first class. He can't have bulkhead because he will have large oxygen tanks that have to fit under the seat in front.

I think for his O2 rate (3.0 L, which doc said should be .5 L greater than on ground) and the length of the flight (2:17 if we don't make fuel stop in GSP or JAX, maybe 4:00 if we do) he would need at least 2 bottles, maybe 3. So those would fit better under F/C seat. I saw where it looks like the F/C armrests fold up if necessary, and I would sit in window next to him, or aisle across since loads are usually light. And I could hold up a blanket around him for privacy.

But dad is concerned about standing and possibly needing to walk on a commercial plane. So he thinks he wants an air ambulance now. He's never used a walker in the nursing home yet, would a walker help him stand & walk? I think if he just got up & rested his rear end on his arm rest, that it would be sufficient to prevent thrombosis. I could get one of those cloth lifting straps and put it around his chest and hold onto it while he's standing up.
I don't use O2 so I can't help. For a youner non-ambulatory guy like me, I keep moving my legs often, flexing the muscles, and changing seating position (put weight on different sides by leaning for example). I also lift myself by using my armrests and as much as I can push with my legs for a short time every once in a while. (Probably only 30 seconds.) I do this, hoping to reduce the risk of DVT. It also reduces pain of sitting too long in one position.

I do not know if any of this will work for him, it's just what I do.

One other thing, some wheelchair seat cushions will fit on an airline seat, further reducing the risk. However, there's no guarantees.

With all the care he needs it does sound like an air ambulance would be better, but I have no idea.
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Old Aug 23, 04, 10:19 pm   #15
 
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Coordinating Medical Flight With Oxygen

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesing
My wife and I are planning to have her dad come live with us. He's fairly lucid but is confined to a wheelchair--partial leg amputation and a metal replacement knee....
jonesing, With all the medical care your wife has undergone, she has likely been in the hospital at least once. Hospitals have Social Workers that coordinate special care medical travel arrangements just like the one you're describing. Ask your doctor to help you connect with one of the hospital Social Workers to assist with the coordination of Mrs. Jonesing's travel arrangements and medical care needs. You are absolutely correct that she has special needs that require advance planning. Most hospital Social Workers routinely work with airlines to facilitate medical patient transfers. In your case, the oxygen requirement seems to be a major concern. Again, the Social Worker will assess all Mrs. Jonesing's medical care issues and coordinate the best plan of action with the airlines. Finally, some airlines require a letter of medical fitness from your doctor in order to be permitted boarding, especially where continuous oxygen administration is concerned. Obviously, you want to travel cost-effectively with a plan for safety given her medical needs and oxygen management. A Social Worker would also be able to assist with recommendations of medical vendors for wheelchairs, medical equipment and/or oxygen provisions during the flight. I can't say enough how much value a Social Worker would provide to coordinate your wife's safe transfer.

Safe, Medically-Sound and Cost-Effective in the Fog,

mrspilot
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