Not everyone always needs to use a wheelchair, so it’s understandable if you don’t know how to reserve a wheelchair at an airport. Sometimes you get hurt playing sports and it leaves you unable to walk for a short period of time. Maybe you are going on a trip and don’t want to take your wheelchair because whoever you are meeting has one already waiting for you.
Air Carrier Access Act of 1986.
Whatever the reason you will be able to get a wheelchair to use. Someone will be able to escort you to your gate and out to your car when you arrive at your destination. If you have a connecting flight you will also have assistance to your next gate.
This is require by law in the United States because of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986. All U.S. airliners are required to offer this service. Also, all foreign airliners that are leaving or coming into the U.S. are also required. Many foreign airlines also offer this service in other countries as well.
What to know when booking a flight
Choose a larger plane when booking a flight if possible. Larger planes have wider aisles and also more bathrooms. Call your airliner at least 48 hours before a flight to request wheelchair assistance. Be aware that certain airlines only allow a certain number of passengers requiring onboard wheelchairs on each flight.
What is my wheelchair attendant required to do?
Your wheelchair attendant is not required to take you to get food so plan ahead. Prepare food for yourself beforehand and bring it with you. Just because you are in a wheelchair does not mean you get all the special treatment that you may assume. Although most wheelchair attendants are very accommodating.
You may not be able to skip the line when checking your bags. You are also not allowed to use your own wheelchair at airports. Please bring instructions if it needs to be disassembled. It is important for you to allocate enough time for this, going to security and also making it to your gate. Arrive even earlier during holidays.
Good communication is important
You need to let your wheelchair attendant know what you can and cannot do. For example, if you are unable to walk at all, your wheelchair assistant needs to know this. If you cannot walk through the screening device or stand with your arms over your head, you will undergo a pat down. Your wheelchair will also be inspected.
If you need to use the wheelchair on the airplane you will be allowed to board first. Letting your wheelchair assistant and also the flight attendants know your needs, will help you get the best service possible. If you don’t speak up people will not know.
What is an escort pass?
Some airlines issue escort passes which allow someone you know to go with you to your gate, but this is up to the airlines. It functions like a boarding pass to move throughout the airport with you.
When your plane arrives please wait as you will be the last to get off the plane. Your new wheelchair assistant will be waiting for you at your destination. If you have any issues contact your airlines Complaints Resolution Official, which will be on duty or accessible by phone.
Airlines prefer you contact them to request wheelchair assistance at least 48 hours in advance. If you have not done this plan on arriving at the airport even earlier. It’s better to be early than stressed about missing your flight. Also, remember to always tip each of your wheelchair assistances.