Traveling by an airplane instead of your vehicle with handicapped van conversions might seem like a hassle. Don’t let a disability restrict you from traveling to places too far to drive. Here are some tips to make flying to your destination easier:
Prior to the Flight
It can’t be stressed enough… PLAN AHEAD. Whether traveling with a disability or not, planning ahead for traveling is essential. This means traveling with a disability and/or wheelchair it is even more critical.
1. Contact Your Doctor
Prior to booking your flight, contact your doctor regarding your health to make sure traveling by plane is a safe option for you. Make sure prescriptions are filled (bringing extra is recommended) and/or over-the-counter medications are packed if recommended by your doctor. You should carry all medication in your carry on bag in an unlikely event that your checked luggage gets lost. Also, ask about medical assistance for when you are gone in the area you are visiting, for example, emergency contact numbers and nearby hospitals by your destination.
2. Book Your Flight
Once your doctor approves your travel plans, book your flight ASAP so accommodations can be made. Notify and discuss with the airline about your disability, type of wheelchair, etc. Make sure an aisle seat is reserved for you and ask about what kinds of medical assistance and devices that are available. Ask questions: Does aircraft have movable seats? Can aircraft store your wheelchair? Accessible toilet? On-board wheelchair?
3. Wheelchair Necessities
Now it’s time to schedule a wheelchair maintenance check. Schedule this far enough in advance to make sure it is working properly while you are traveling. Also, pack basic wheelchair tools and parts in case something happens to your wheelchair since it is not guaranteed that your destination will have the wheelchair parts you would need.
4. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is highly recommended. Taking out travel insurance for those traveling with a disability in order to cover your flight and equipment.
5. Follow Up
Follow up with the airline by calling them 24-48 hours ahead of time to ensure that they know about your needs.
Day of the Flight
Make sure to arrive at the airport one hour earlier than the typical check in time for extra time taken going through security and ensuring assistance regarding necessary equipment. Note that your wheelchair should have your contact info on it in case it goes missing and that a photocopy of the instructions is attached for disassembling/reassembling in case it’s too big to be stowed. When it’s time to board the plane, disabled travelers typically get priority to board the plane first and should be assisted by an airline employee.
And… ready for takeoff!