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Wheelchair Procedures and/or Etiquette?

Wheelchair Procedures and/or Etiquette?

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Old Nov 2, 06, 9:17 am
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Wheelchair Procedures and/or Etiquette?

I was dining with friends last night and since they know that I travel a lot for business and pleasure, they mentioned that they were going to be traveling with an infirm relative who needed wheelchair services for a domestic, then an international trip... They asked if I knew whether wheelchair services at airports were free and if so, what's the standard tip, etc?

I don't know! How much should one tip a wheelchair attendant? What's the wheelchair procedure and/or etiquette at U.S. and foreign airports? If anyone with experience in this can shed some light, thanks in advance, I'd appreciate it.
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Old Nov 2, 06, 9:42 am
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You will probably get better advice in the Travelers with Disabilities Forum: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/forum...ysprune=&f=224

However, to arraign wheelchairs contact the airline directly, reconfirm at each airport, and request a powered cart at your layover (if there is one).

I'd suggest a $5 tip for a wheelchair pusher.
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Old Nov 2, 06, 10:18 am
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Moving to Travel With Disabilities Forum. Please continue to follow there.
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Old Nov 2, 06, 1:39 pm
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I've been in a wheelchair for a short three weeks, but have had several flights and the have needed the assistance of several workers. I tip according to the amount of help I received. I had HORRIBLE service at IAH a couple of weeks ago. The first guy kept getting personal calls and left me in the middle of security while he chatted to his pal (they were making plans for after work so it was not a work call). He didn't get tipped much. I spent some time at the President's club and the plub staff called SEVEN times to get me a pusher - no one came so one of the staff took me part way down until she found two employees - chatting up each other and one took me to the gate - then dumped me by the gate (it was a delayed flight) in an area I could easily get hurt (my leg has to be straight out) so I moved myself. Needless to say she didn't get much either.

I had WONDEFUL service at LAX by 6 different people. I tipped no less than $6. Some had to take me a short ways; one took me all the way through immigration, helped with bags, etc. etc. etc. He got $20. I think tip dependant on what you feel it was worth. $5 may be too much in some cases - especially if it's in Houston!
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Old Nov 3, 06, 8:48 pm
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Mainline airlines* offer complimentary wheelchair assistance, usually supplied by airport contractors. When your friends make their reservation, they should call the airline and ask for wheelchair assistance. Generally the passenger(s) will need to get their own selves to the check in counter, and at that point a wheelchair is summoned, with a pusher, who is a contract employee.

Different airports have different policies about whether the pusher is required or not - at DEN, you can wander off with the airport's wheelchair, but you have to leave a driver's license as security (so of course you have to go back and get it before departing).

Tipping the pusher is nice, but not required - back when I used the service, I generally tipped $5.

At security, the passenger will be directed to the area where people with mobility disabilites are hand-searched. The passenger will be asked if he/she can stand to be searched. At the gate, the passenger will be pre-boarded - taken in the wheelchair to the end of the jetway, but will then be expected to stand and walk into the plane. The passenger's personal mobility device (cane, walker, etc) will be stowed (ie, you can't keep it with you at your seat, unless you're really good at surreptiously sliding a cane between your seat and the wall without anyone noticing).

Towards the end of the flight, the passenger should remind a flight attendant that he/she needs wheelchair assistance at the destination. It is polite to remain in your seat until everyone else has disembarked, rather than blocking others' exit from the plane.

If there is any trouble getting a wheelchair, the best thing to do is remain on the plane if possible, as the crew cannot leave while any passengers remain on board, so they're motivated to help you get your wheelchair.

Generally the pusher will take the passenger from the plane to baggage claim, then to whatever transportation is appropriate.

*Bets are off with budget airlines, especially Ryanair, which does charge for the use of wheelchairs and seems to specialize in bad publicity incidents involving wheelchair assistance.
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Old Nov 4, 06, 6:06 am
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I've never tipped the pushers. There was one time, though, when I wish I had cash on me to tip one. He was fantastic! If I ever run into him again I will double the tip.
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Old Nov 8, 06, 1:41 pm
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Mobile devices

[QUOTE=Katja]Mainline airlines* offer complimentary wheelchair assistance, usually supplied by airport contractors. When your friends make their reservation, they should call the airline and ask for wheelchair assistance. Generally the passenger(s) will need to get their own selves to the check in counter, and at that point a wheelchair is summoned, with a pusher, who is a contract employee.

Different airports have different policies about whether the pusher is required or not - at DEN, you can wander off with the airport's wheelchair, but you have to leave a driver's license as security (so of course you have to go back and get it before departing).

Tipping the pusher is nice, but not required - back when I used the service, I generally tipped $5.

At security, the passenger will be directed to the area where people with mobility disabilites are hand-searched. The passenger will be asked if he/she can stand to be searched. At the gate, the passenger will be pre-boarded - taken in the wheelchair to the end of the jetway, but will then be expected to stand and walk into the plane. The passenger's personal mobility device (cane, walker, etc) will be stowed (ie, you can't keep it with you at your seat, unless you're really good at surreptiously sliding a cane between your seat and the wall without anyone noticing).

We have never experienced a problem with taking our canes on Northwest or Delta flights. We have flown to Vegas, Hawaii, Atlanta and Chicago. You have to put your cane through security and then it is ok - I put mine by my seat or overhead - no problem. Most big planes have aisle wheelchairs to take you on the plane and to the restroom if necessary. Elaine
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Old Nov 8, 06, 6:25 pm
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Wheelchair service and security

Hi,
Does anyone have any particular experience with wheelchair service at ORD or SJU? My mother is handicapped and wears full time support casts with special boots due to diabetes and a disfiguring degenerative disease in her feet, she can walk down the jetway, but that's about it.

My other concern for her is security check. She cannot remove her casts without some readjustment. and if she takes them off, she will be unable to walk through a blower or magnetometer without a significant amount of pain, and possibly break a bone of some sort, which should be avoided.

If the airline supplies a wheelchair, would she be able to go through security in the wheelchair or get wanded somewhere along the way to avoid having to take off her boots/casts? or should we just plan on taking them off and dealing with the 15-20 minute readjustment time?

anyone have any ideas?
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Old Nov 8, 06, 9:12 pm
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Originally Posted by maggie6872
Hi,
Does anyone have any particular experience with wheelchair service at ORD or SJU? My mother is handicapped and wears full time support casts with special boots due to diabetes and a disfiguring degenerative disease in her feet, she can walk down the jetway, but that's about it.

My other concern for her is security check. She cannot remove her casts without some readjustment. and if she takes them off, she will be unable to walk through a blower or magnetometer without a significant amount of pain, and possibly break a bone of some sort, which should be avoided.

If the airline supplies a wheelchair, would she be able to go through security in the wheelchair or get wanded somewhere along the way to avoid having to take off her boots/casts? or should we just plan on taking them off and dealing with the 15-20 minute readjustment time?

anyone have any ideas?
She can go through security with a wheelchair and not have to adjust anything. They will wand and hand search her. They will also test her casts for residue (similar to when they test other bags, laptops, etc) and may also test her hands. It will take some time as she may have to wait to have the "Female assist" to do the search.
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Old Dec 10, 06, 11:31 pm
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I am a wheelchair attendant!

As a wheelchair attendant myself, I know there is no set amount to tip however, a tip should be given. I go out of my way to get their luggage, find their family or transportation, and even stop off at the restroom after a long cramped flight. I ask with true interest how their trip was, or I welcome them home. Often I am with a passenger up to one hour. When I see them take out a dollar or two, that is in a way an insult. When your wheelchair attendant pulls your luggage, does everything for you, and pushes you... tip them knowing they served you, and they probably make less than minimum wage. However if you do recieve horrible service then I understand lack of good tipping ettiquette.
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Old Dec 11, 06, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by smurfph View Post
As a wheelchair attendant myself, I know there is no set amount to tip however, a tip should be given. I go out of my way to get their luggage, find their family or transportation, and even stop off at the restroom after a long cramped flight. I ask with true interest how their trip was, or I welcome them home. Often I am with a passenger up to one hour. When I see them take out a dollar or two, that is in a way an insult. When your wheelchair attendant pulls your luggage, does everything for you, and pushes you... tip them knowing they served you, and they probably make less than minimum wage. However if you do recieve horrible service then I understand lack of good tipping ettiquette.
I'd be interested in your opinion about this:

Wheelchair pushers make it possible for disabled people to have equal access that the able bodied have. It seems to me that the airline or airports should be bearing the cost burden of providing this service. Why should the disabled, who often live on Social Security Disability, be expected to bear the cost burden (tips) of this service?

I don't disagree with tipping extraordinary service, but the above bothers me a little. I wouldn't mind getting the opinion of a 'chair pusher.
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Old Apr 12, 07, 11:23 pm
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I would agree with you except most of our passengers can walk, sometimes they even have multiple amounts of able bodied family members with them who choose to utilize our services. The people who really do need a wheelchair and are disabled or in severe need of our services have their own devices or walkers ect... Also often are not alone because they are unable to take care of themselves, usually family takes care of them. Some people take advantage of our service so they can skip the line at security when they are running late, and to preboard. So overall I would say only 5% of my passengers are really disabled and in desperate need of my assistance.
Also you mention that they live on disability or social security, well in the case of working in the airport most of our passengers are coming home from a trip to vegas, or their summer home in florida where they spent the last six months. Many tell us of their traveling stories or the multiple cruises they just came back from, so I would say most of our travelers are financially stable. When we pull the baggage off the carousel, they will joke and tell us "those two bags are just stuff I bought while I was in Hawaii the past three months", And i do hope those that are elderly or on social security choose to tip the waitress when they go out to eat! Afterall they chose to go out, the sameway 95% of our passengers chose to go on vacation.
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Old Apr 13, 07, 7:42 am
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I've spent a lot of time in Florida airports. It is not unusual to see a dozen wheelchairs waiting for people to deplane.

But it is impossible to tell what a person's needs and abilities are by just looking or listening to conversation. Airports are big and distances are often long. Some people can walk a few feet, even a few blocks, but not the seemingly miles one has to walk at MIA.

I can't believe that chair pushers get less than the minimum wage!

My husband just corrected me (so what's new?). He said that he has seen more than 2 dozen wheel chairs waiting for flights at Tampa. And that many or more people arriving at the gates to depart at the same airport being pushed in wheel chairs.

Last edited by oldpenny16; Apr 13, 07 at 7:49 am
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Old Apr 13, 07, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by smurfph View Post
As a wheelchair attendant myself, I know there is no set amount to tip however, a tip should be given. I go out of my way to get their luggage, find their family or transportation, and even stop off at the restroom after a long cramped flight. I ask with true interest how their trip was, or I welcome them home. Often I am with a passenger up to one hour. When I see them take out a dollar or two, that is in a way an insult. When your wheelchair attendant pulls your luggage, does everything for you, and pushes you... tip them knowing they served you, and they probably make less than minimum wage. However if you do recieve horrible service then I understand lack of good tipping ettiquette.
Would you be willing to at least give us the general area where you work? I am amazed at the difference in treatment I receive and as I said above when I was disabled early on, I tip according to services I receive. I'm amazed at some of the great service I receive and no longer surprised by the not so good. I'm very disappointed that my home airport, IAH, has some of the worst service I've encountered - consistantly while at Orlando I receive generally stellar service.

I really don't need any assistance other than coming up the jet way as I have my own chair and have gotten good at navigating through the airport on my own - but when I can get it, I appreciate it. When sources are scarce, I just don't want to take a pusher away from a passenger who might really need it. My only real area I need help is getting up the jet way so if someone is there I appreciate it greatly - otherwise I've had some kind FAs and pilots assist me.
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Old Apr 16, 07, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by smurfph View Post
I would agree with you except most of our passengers can walk, sometimes they even have multiple amounts of able bodied family members with them who choose to utilize our services. The people who really do need a wheelchair and are disabled or in severe need of our services have their own devices or walkers ect... Also often are not alone because they are unable to take care of themselves, usually family takes care of them. Some people take advantage of our service so they can skip the line at security when they are running late, and to preboard. So overall I would say only 5% of my passengers are really disabled and in desperate need of my assistance.
Also you mention that they live on disability or social security, well in the case of working in the airport most of our passengers are coming home from a trip to vegas, or their summer home in florida where they spent the last six months. Many tell us of their traveling stories or the multiple cruises they just came back from, so I would say most of our travelers are financially stable. When we pull the baggage off the carousel, they will joke and tell us "those two bags are just stuff I bought while I was in Hawaii the past three months", And i do hope those that are elderly or on social security choose to tip the waitress when they go out to eat! Afterall they chose to go out, the sameway 95% of our passengers chose to go on vacation.
I get your point about most travelers not needing it as much as others, and the other point a bout most being financially able. What about the 5% that really need the service and can't afford the tips? Will the rich people tipping heavily ruin the needed service for those who can't. Was the wheelchair pusher service created for the 95% or for the 5%?
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