Many people need wheelchairs to move around, whether it is a temporary situation or a permanent situation. It can be a struggle sometimes; unfortunately, most places are not accessible enough. So, when it comes to traveling, you might be concerned about whether airlines will allow wheelchairs.
Airlines allow wheelchairs, but you must leave your wheelchair at check-in with your other baggage. If the wheelchair is too big, it will be transported with the plane’s cargo. Airlines are also required by law to accommodate the needs of wheelchair users at all times.
Related: do airlines allow strollers?
Do Airlines Allow Wheelchairs?
Many people with disabilities have issues that impact major activities, whether permanent or temporary. Some of these activities include flying while you’re a wheelchair user. In the United States, airlines are required to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities, which includes people using wheelchairs. Thus, airlines allow wheelchairs.
Because of this, airlines must allow wheelchair users on a plane. According to the Air Carrier Access Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities. So, whether you’re flying to the US, from the US, or within the US, the airline musts accommodate you if you use a wheelchair.
What Is The Air Carrier Access Act?
The Air Carrier Access Act is applicable to all American Airlines. It is unlawful for an airline to discriminate against a person with a disability; this includes people who use wheelchairs. Remember that this Act only applies to people flying to, from, or within the United States. The Act sets out all rights people with disabilities have when flying.
What Rights Do I Have Before and After The Flight?
In terms of the Act, carriers are required to provide you with assistance when enplaning and deplaning. Assistance includes wheelchair ramps, mechanical lifts, onboard wheelchairs, and ground wheelchairs. In addition, all carriers have to allow people with wheelchairs additional time to board.
If you’re permanently immobile, personnel are not allowed to leave you unattended for more than 30 minutes if you are in a ground or boarding wheelchair. In addition, the personnel must assist people using wheelchairs to move from the terminal entrance through all essential terminal areas to the gate for departure. They also need to help you while you are on board.
What Rights Do You Have During The Flight?
On the plane, the Act requires that personnel assist wheelchair users in moving to and from their seats, preparing food, and loading and retrieving items brought on board.
Personnel will also need to assist you with guiding you to the restroom. Additionally, the personnel will need to assist you with boarding and deplaning. The plane must also have a wheelchair for people who need wheelchairs to access the bathroom.
What Are The Travel Guidelines For Wheelchair Users?
All airlines that allow people with wheelchairs to travel on their plan have some guidelines that will need to be followed for them to be allowed to fly. As a rule, be sure to check the airline’s regulations about wheelchair users before making a booking. You can also contact the airline directly if you have any questions.
When booking your flight, give the airline notice that you are a wheelchair user. Every airline has its policies, so familiarize yourself with them. You will also need to note that international airlines don’t follow the same U.S. legislation and regulations, so it is important to research the applicable policies.
What Arrangements Do You Need To Make Prior to the Flight Date?
If you’re traveling to, from, or in the U.S., call the relevant airline and arrange for:
- A wheelchair to board
- Seating accommodation
- Loading and stowing your wheelchair
- Your arrival time (usually you have to arrive two hours before your flight time)
If you’re traveling with an international airline, you will need to contact them for their traveling guidelines. Then, following your ticket purchase, contact the airline and inform them of the special assistance you will need at the airport and on the airplane.
Can You Fly With Your Wheelchair?
Unfortunately, most airlines won’t allow wheelchairs to take your wheelchair on board. You will have to leave it at check-in, and they will either provide you with a wheelchair suitable for the plane or guide you to a suitable seat.
You will need to check your wheelchair in with all your other baggage. For example, if you have a powered wheelchair, you will probably need to check it to be transported to the plane’s cargo area. In that case, you will need to provide your wheelchair’s measurements ahead of time.
Are There Extra Costs Involved?
People who use wheelchairs don’t pay anything extra to check in their wheelchairs. You may pay extra if the plane has to transport two or more wheelchairs. The airline personnel and carrier personnel will store your wheelchair safely. In addition, there are also no charges for wheelchair assistance before, during, and after your flight.
How Is The Experience When Flying?
Unfortunately, many wheelchair users have complained that their flights are stressful and sometimes even painful. Others find it impossible to fly. Despite the legislation, some airplanes are inaccessible and do not meet the needs of people who use wheelchairs.
This makes sense since airplanes are made with the average person in mind. For example, many people complain that they cannot align their postures and are uncomfortable the whole flight because they’re not allowed to board their wheelchairs.
Those who feel they are being treated inhumanely should file a complaint after their flight to ensure that the American airline makes the necessary changes and have policies that align with U.S. legislation.
How Can You File A Complaint?
Suppose you feel that the airline has violated your rights due to discrimination based on your disability. In that case, you can file a complaint with the United States Department of Transportation. If you are a wheelchair user and your rights have been violated, you should report the violation within 45 days first to the carrier. Ensure you have proof that you complained about the airline’s website or a form.
What Will Happen After Filing A Complaint?
In many cases, the airline may award you compensation for the inconvenience, such as loyalty program miles or vouchers. However, this does nothing to ensure that it does not happen again.
If you receive a response from the airline, you can also lodge a complaint with the Department of Transportation. They will investigate the situation and can impose sanctions on the airline to ensure that no one else’s rights are ever violated.
What Can You Do If Your Wheelchair Is Lost Or Damaged?
If your wheelchair is lost you will have to go to the support desk and provide information on the lost wheelchair such as your itinerary, bag of tag, proof of ownership, type of wheelchair, the wheelchair’s model and serial number, and a baggage incident report.
It will be easy to file a complaint if your wheelchair is damaged. Before boarding the plane, the airline personnel will document the state of your wheelchair to confirm its condition. Then, if it’s not in the same condition, you can inform the personnel at the support desk for them to make repairs.