If you use a wheelchair, it can make travel a bit tricky. Simply put, you have more to think about than someone who doesn’t need or use a wheelchair. That absolutely shouldn’t deter you from taking trips, but it does pay to be aware of the added wrinkles you’ll encounter when you travel by air. Below, we’ll give you the full scoop so you’ll know exactly what to expect, answering the question, ‘how do I get wheelchair service in an airport.’
You May Not Need It
The first thing to be aware of is the fact that you may not need airport service. You may be able to travel with the wheelchair you currently own and use. The particulars surrounding this vary from one airline to the next, so if you have your heart set on using your own chair, be sure to call the airline you plan to fly with and a) make sure they allow it, and b) make sure you understand the rules.
Assuming this is possible, when you make your reservation, be sure to mention that you’re in a wheelchair so the staff will be able to accommodate you when you arrive.
If You Do Need It
If you want to travel but you’d just as soon leave your regular wheelchair at home, a related question on the topic is, ‘how do I get wheelchair service in an airport when I am buying tickets?‘
The short answer is, you request it when you make your reservation. Still, the particulars will vary from one carrier to the next. So to be sure you understand exactly what is involved, and when you arrive at the airport to check-in, make sure you arrive at least 2 hours before departure because it’s going to take a little longer to get you checked in and get you the assistance you’ll need.
Either way, when you make the reservations, you’ll want to request a bulkhead or an aisle seat to make your life easier. Finally, be aware that if you’re traveling with a service animal, take medications, or have other equipment like an oxygen tank, you’ll need to mention it upfront, and understand that every airline has different policies surrounding all of the above.
Although traveling with a mobility issue has its challenges, do not be deterred! There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy every aspect of life, despite your mobility. In fact, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 guarantees it!