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Thread: flying alone with a wheelchair

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    flying alone with a wheelchair


    I wish to travel/fly on my own transatlantic.

    this forum has been so helpful in the past, I wondered if someone could answer some questions or has any first hand experience of this.
    I have ataxia and cannot walk. I have been on ba website and from my memory I am not confident at putting an oxygen mask on or reaching an emergency exit un aided.can they provide assistance in the case of an emergency on the aircraft?-

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Contact the airlines 'special needs' helpline and tell them you are a wheelchair user.

    I only have experience of travelling alone as a crutch user who requested a wheelchair going out and coming back.

    It also depends whether you are an electric wheelchair user that will need to be stored in the planes luggage hold or a manual wheelchair that MAY be stored in the cabin.

    The way it worked for me.
    When arriving at the airport and checking in I tell them I've booked wheelchair assistance. They will book you in on a front row near the entrance and toilets — the seating usually has extra legroom as standard - you don't pay extra for it.

    A porter would turn up at the check-in with a wheelchair and take me to the lounge until it was time to proceed to the customs area where both your hand luggage and you are checked out. Luckily you don't queue up but will be taken to an individual who will do a body search and move you along.

    Once you are at the gate tell the flight admissions staff you are disabled. They will ask you to come t the gate entrance 5 minutes before they allow all passengers on and will wheel you into the aircraft entrance. Then you will be transferred into their own narrow width wheelchair and taken to your seat on the front row.

    Two things - if you had an electric wheelchair this would have been taken at the check-in to put in the luggage hold. The check-in person would have advised if your manual wheelchair could be taken and stored on board.

    Toilets. The toilet is extremely compact and you will not be offered any help by the crew for your toiling needs as they are food handlers. If possible use an incontinence bag if it is a long journey e.g. over 3 hours.

    Oxygen mask and emergency exits
    Well, I've travelled many times and as far as Australia, Japan, America and Africa to name a few without incident so it's the least of your worries. YAou\re more likely to get knocked down outside your house than be in an air incident.

    Leaving the aircraft.
    The crew will ask you to remain seated until all the passengers have got off. Then a porter with a wheelchair will arrive and you need to be able to transfer into the wheelchair. The porter will take you through the back passageways to passport control The good thing is that you will see your fellow passengers queuing up while you are seen by an individual customs/passport person.

    Baggage collection
    The porter will wheel you to the luggage collection carousel where he will collect your luggage and take both you and your luggage to the airport entrance and get you a cab. At JFK airport in New York I felt embarrassed as there was a large queue of people waiting for yellow cabs. My porter grabbed the first cab that came and bundled me in.

    I was the first person on the plane - the last person off the plane and the first person from our flight out of the airport.

    You need to check yourself that assistance is in place through phoning the airline. Also check what ISNT allowed on a flight e.g. liquids or anything sharp which will be taken off you before boarding.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    I have never flown transalantic but the flight to Rhodes was 4 hours. I echo Lighttouch, book assistance WELL in advance and check on it a week before you fly. SPECIFY you are in wheelchair and you will need assistance wiht luggage.
    Electric wheelchairs have to have the battery disconnected and the motor/battery won't be allowed in hold, so they may ask for make model and dimensions of your chair. Put any meds in HAND luggage. they travel in cabin. Don't forget insurance. Check travel insurance and wheelchair insurance. You be put on first and come off last but small price for getting the help i found!

  4. #4
    Senior Member barbiejane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    We have just returned from Spain and had wheelchair assistance.We flew from Manchester and everything was A OK.When we arrived in Spain we had to wait for the Ambi lift where the wheelchair was waiting (hubby and my self can walk a little distance) but it only took a few minutes and we were taken straight to the luggage reclaim where the assistant helped my granddaughter get the luggage she then took us to the awaiting coach.It was the same on the way back and I can't fault wheelchair assistance at either end.I know our position is different to yours Ellie as we can both walk but I am sure you will be absoulutley fine.My friend and her family have just come back from the states flying with BA and she is in a wheelchair and had no problems what so ever.She phoned BA before they went to explain everything to them and the y were brilliant with her and met all her requests.

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