Wheel Chair Travel

Old Oct 4, 22, 4:00 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2022
Posts: 1
Smile Wheel Chair Travel

Hello, my name is Jason. It's nice to meet you all. I am from Hayward California. In 2020 my husband and I got COVID 19 and while I was lucky to be able to quarantine at home, it put my husband in the hospital for 6 months and so he is in a wheel chair and bed bound. He has expressed travelling again and I want to know what should I expect when travelling with him.

I have to lift him up out of the bed to put him in the chair and I am capable of transferring him myself from the chair to a seat.

Can you give me some great advice about travelling with him? This is going to be our first flight since the pandemic. We kind of want to go somewhere for Christmas.
sailorbear510 is offline  
Old Oct 5, 22, 8:19 am
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: IAD
Programs: United MP
Posts: 7,818
You need a wheelchair with a good cushion (ROHO High Profile for me) so he can sit in it for hours at a time in case of delays. The last thing he needs is a pressure sore.

If you plan to stay in a hotel, call the hotel directly and ask about bed height. Many have really high mattresses that are very difficult to transfer into. I don’t know how much he can help you on transfers so this is a very important issue. We did use a step stool 4 inches high, but that requires getting to a standing position for a second or two. The 4 inch height of stool makes it harder to get up than just using the floor. We also bring a pole device that makes a grab bar to help me stand up enough to transfer. We haven’t tried to fly with it though. We drive our van and bring it with us. We went to Europe and shipped one ahead of us, but it never got there. We had to transfer the old fashioned way without it.

When you fly, plan to bring your own chair. Tell them you want to gate check it. Bring an extra empty bag so you can put removable armrests, footrests, backs, cushion, or other parts in so they don’t get broken when they stow the chair in the cargo bay. Chairs get damaged often on airlines, but taking the removable parts off and putting in a backpack or bag and carrying it on will reduce the risk. This extra bag is allowed and doesn’t count against your regular carryon limits.

Gate checking means they push you down the jetway to near the aircraft door. This usually happens during pre-boarding time, meaning that you and him get on before everyone else. Stay near the gate so they see him and remember to call assistance. If you have already informed the Airline in advance, and reminded them during checkin that he needs assistance*, there will be a couple of wheelchair guys with a small wheeled chair. If he can’t walk to his seat, they will help him transfer to their chair (aisle chair). That’s when you bag the wheelchair parts and carry them on.

They will wheel him down the narrow aisle to his seat and help him transfer to it. By the way, you will need to request a seat with a removable, or foldable, armrest. The planes usually have several reserved for disabled pax.

On arrival, if already requested, there will be another assistance team to get him off the plane and back to his chair at the aircraft door. That’s most of the time.

AT IAD (Washington Dulles), for example, when I arrived off an international flight, my chair gets taken to baggage claim. I have to use one of their airport chairs through passport control first, and then search for my chair at baggage claim. The one time I flew domestic there , I believe I got my chair back at the gate. I can’t remember for sure though.

One other thing, he will have to wait until everyone else exits the plane before the assistance comes. First on, last off.

* (note that there are codes for different kinds of assistance. It sounds like he needs the one I need. That is the code for not being able to walk at all. Make sure you carefully select the correct assistance level needed or it could cause a delay as the scramble to get the correct assistance together.)

One extremely important detail. You need to plan how he can go to the bathroom. People use catheters with leg bags, travel-john (pee bottle), and diapers (Depends) are different choices. Getting up and going to the restroom is not always an option. I use a travel john under a blanket when, hopefully, most are asleep, and my wife takes it to the restroom to empty it. I’m tempted to just use Depends and change on arrival in airport restroom, but Ic chickened out because it is very difficult.

You also need to plan for ground transportation at your destination.

That’s just the basics. Can say more if needed. It sounds like a lot, but it can be worth it. Youtube has some videos about traveling with disabilities so you can see some of what i said. Most of those are of people who can do more than I can, but they are still helpful.
DeafFlyer is offline  

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