Can People In Wheelchairs Travel By Plane?

Do you or a loved one use a wheelchair and have an upcoming plane trip? It can be a nerve-racking process; especially it's your first time. The chances are you might be thinking to yourself, "what are the protocols of travelling in a wheelchair by plane?" 

Don't fret. You have nothing to worry about as wheelchair users can travel by plane. However, there are several factors to consider - such as the type and size of your wheelchair. For instance, airline employees gate check a power wheelchair. On the other hand, there is limited space for manual wheelchairs.

Ensure you contact the airline you have booked your flight with beforehand to clarify your physical preferences and requirements. This should be regarding wheelchair assistance, security screenings, extra costs, and the procedure to board the plane. Are you planning air travel but don't know what to expect? If so, read on to learn all the basics of travelling by plane in a wheelchair.


Requirements For Wheelchair And Other Mobility Aids 

If you have an international flight, note that only a single personal manual collapsible wheelchair is stowed in the aircraft cabin, and it is offered upon request during check-in on a first-come basis. Here are the requirements for wheelchairs and other mobility aids: 

  • Your mobility aid must meet the specific size dimensions of the aircraft type you are travelling in when it is broken down.
  • You can collect your mobility aid from the baggage collection area upon arrival, but you can request it delivered to you at the gate lounge whenever possible.
  • You may give up your mobility aid at the check-in or departure gate, and you will receive appropriate assistance.
  • Passengers with disabilities should not take their mobility aids into the aircraft cabin. 

    Mobility Aid Size Restrictions

    • Your mobility aid must always travel in an upright position, whether folded or unfolded, as it minimises the risk of damage.
    • Manual wheelchairs must fit within the size restrictions in an upright position. For example, your wheelchair might be within the size restriction but cannot fit in an upright position. It will only be carried if the manufacturer confirms it can be transported on its side and weighs less than 32kg. 

    Can Wheelchairs Travel By Plane

    5 Tips When Travelling With Wheelchairs 

    1. Always book direct flights: Booking direct flights helps you minimise the hassle of having to board and get off a plane twice.
    1. Contact the airports: It helps to contact both arriving and departing airports to find out about possible accessibility issues and their security procedures for wheelchairs. You will also know upfront if any additional costs are required and if they offer wheelchair assistance.
    1. Call the air carriers: Before you book your flight, call the airline and inquire whether they can accommodate your needs before boarding, during the flight, and when exiting the plane. Remember to also ask about the accessibility options they offer. It also helps to learn more about their department of transportation.
    1. Do your due diligence: It helps to conduct thorough research on the different airlines and their policies before booking your flight. 
    1. Make a reservation with time to spare: You must make a reservation in advance so you have sufficient time to call the airline and clarify that they can meet your needs.

      Tips For Checking Your Wheelchair In At The Airport

      • If you have a powered wheelchair, store your wheelchair's control knob and power cable in your hand luggage before you board an aisle chair. 
      • To reduce delays, remove loose components like the armrest, headrest, and footplates when loading your wheelchair.
      • Show the stowage personnel how they can switch your wheelchair from powered to manual movement.
      • Consult the airline about their safety regulations if you use a powered wheelchair with dry-cell, liquid-based, or lithium-ion batteries.

        Final Thoughts 

        Travelling in a wheelchair by plane is not a complicated process if you carefully plan your trip. As long as you call the airports and airlines beforehand to determine whether they can accommodate your needs, the process will be seamless.  


        Buy The Best Mobility Aids At Get About Mobility 

        The key to ensuring you have an easy time travelling in a wheelchair by plane is proper planning and booking your flight in advance. Always call the airline beforehand if you have any concerns or questions.

        Having the right mobility aids can also make a significant difference considering the size and weight restrictions.  

        If you are looking for wheelchairs and other independent daily living and mobility aids, call Get About Mobility today on 1300 168 902 or leave an enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible.