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Avoiding boarding/exiting by stairs?

Avoiding boarding/exiting by stairs?

Old Feb 25, 20, 4:02 pm
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Question Avoiding boarding/exiting by stairs?

My flight to SXF from ARN involved use of an outdoor stairway. The weather was icy with sleet coming down. My husband and I were told that we would have to board by climbing the outdoor stairs. Some passengers were allowed to board via the jetway (AKA jet bridge). I refused the stairs and wasn't challenged when I boarded at the end of the jetway boarding line. At SXF I had to exit the plane using the stairs because our plane was assigned to Terminal D which had no jetways. I made it down with some small difficulty, but the wait for a bus to the terminal was worse. Now I know to avoid SXF altogether.
My first question is, what if I had been challenged? I'm not disabled enough to need a wheelchair yet, but climbing icy stairs is out of the question. And.. I'm too fat to be lifted up stairs in a narrow wheelchair. Is there any reason a GA would refuse to allow me to board at the end of the line for the passengers assigned to seats at the front of the plane?
My second question is, what other airports should I avoid? I recently learned that BUR has no jetways at BUR, are there any other airports in the USA or major European cities that I should avoid? I had hoped to visit Tromsø, but Wikipedia reports only terminal A has jet bridges. Sigh...
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Old Feb 25, 20, 4:11 pm
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Boarding in Toronto to a small WestJet plane was stopped when there was a customer with a wheelchair. The ground crew brought over a large "ramp" that had several switchbacks to allow for wheelchair access. It was also snowing at the time and this seemed to work quite well.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 6:50 pm
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Don't fly to JAC.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 6:59 pm
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So this was Stockholm to Berlin? On what airline? There are some Europeans flights that are only tarmac boarding and exiting -- and no jet bridge. If one cannot navigate the stairs there is often the option to be carried up in a chair.. Sometimes one will not know if there will be a jet way or not.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 7:36 pm
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I've seen LH board wheelchair passengers like they load catering. Via an elevator truck.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 8:13 pm
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SLC has remote gates accessed via ramp but that is going away soon. LGB also has these ramps but there will never be ice there.

There are many, many others that only sometimes use a Jetway....or its competition. But it is a lot less than it was not all that long ago.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 8:37 pm
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At some airports, RJs don't have standard jetways on roughly the same level as the gatehouse but instead board using a long sloped ramp with switchbacks, often requiring passengers to go outdoors. IIRC DL does this at JFK for the small RJ gates at the end of the concourse and also the JFK Jitney shuttle bus between terminals, but I've seen it elsewhere too.

The net effect is that these devices avoid stairs but do require that one be able to walk up or down a hill. OTOH, they're relatively easy for wheelchairs.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 8:59 pm
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Originally Posted by DLASflyer View Post
Don't fly to JAC.
Or KOA.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 9:04 pm
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BUR has never had jetways and is thus outfitted with various boarding alternatives to stairs. There are low slope switchback ramps that are ADA approved for wheelchairs and I've seen special forklift-like equipment deployed to the opposite side forward door if the ramp isn't working. Passengers needing assistance is an everyday affair at BUR. They know how to handle it. In fact, I'll contend that for this among various other reasons involving size and convenience, BUR should be your first choice in LA, if the choice is available.
Also, you'll never ever have to deal with icy weather at BUR.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
BUR has never had jetways and is thus outfitted with various boarding alternatives to stairs. There are low slope switchback ramps that are ADA approved for wheelchairs and I've seen special forklift-like equipment deployed to the opposite side forward door if the ramp isn't working. Passengers needing assistance is an everyday affair at BUR. They know how to handle it. In fact, I'll contend that for this among various other reasons involving size and convenience, BUR should be your first choice in LA, if the choice is available.
Also, you'll never ever have to deal with icy weather at BUR.
Same thing holds for LGB (which is also a great choice if you're traveling to the LA area!)
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Old Feb 25, 20, 9:27 pm
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You'll always be allowed to board via the jetbridge if needed. It's not just disabled, but physically challenged that get accommodation.

If there is no jetbridge at all, then usually the airport will use a catering like truck (or in some cases an actual catering truck) that can be raised/lowered to allow level boarding.
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Old Feb 25, 20, 10:21 pm
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Originally Posted by SJC ORD LDR View Post
Or KOA.
When I was visiting KOA last year, DL was now using a ramp instead of stairs, even on the 757.
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Old Feb 26, 20, 6:21 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
At some airports, RJs don't have standard jetways on roughly the same level as the gatehouse but instead board using a long sloped ramp with switchbacks, often requiring passengers to go outdoors. IIRC DL does this at JFK for the small RJ gates at the end of the concourse and also the JFK Jitney shuttle bus between terminals, but I've seen it elsewhere too.

The net effect is that these devices avoid stairs but do require that one be able to walk up or down a hill. OTOH, they're relatively easy for wheelchairs.
Most if not all flights are jetbridges even for the RJs. Occasionally at JFK or LGA you might get bussed to a plane but its getting rarer and rarer
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Old Feb 26, 20, 8:25 am
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I'll only speak to Europe. Pretty much every flight in Europe has some % chance of being assigned a hard stand, so you can never eliminate the possibility of having to use stairs entirely - this includes long-haul wide-body flights at the likes of LHR. However, if you tick the box saying you require assistance when you buy your ticket, they should board you using a lift like
. Some airports (LGW for example) have introduced zig-zag ramps like this to make life easier for those who find steps difficult (I think these are the ones mentioned above as appearing in the US).

In general, both LCC-heavy and highly-seasonal airports are more likely to have you board by stairs, and LCCs are less likely to use jetbridges than non-LCCs. Legacy (subsidiary) flights operated by planes with fewer than 6 seats across are more likely to board by stairs. Even where a plane is hooked up to a jet bridge, some airlines will board people in the rear-half of the plane by stairs to expedite boarding - Easyjet even tells you whether you ought to board from the Front or Rear on the (mobile) boarding pass. It's not just LCCs though: LCY is just about the furthest from an LCC/seasonal airport, and it has no jetbridges because there's simply no space for them.

I don't think I've been spared a non-jetbridge boarding/disembarking at any European airport I've visited 5+ times, it's very much a part of flying life.
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Old Feb 26, 20, 8:48 am
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The best thing might be to call the airline in question and talk to their special services / disabilities people. They’d presumably be the most informed and able to arrange necessary boarding assistance at your airports. They usually prefer contact at least 24-48 hours prior to planned flight so they can make necessary arrangements.
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