by Melissa Male and Cheryl Price
If you are a mobileWOMAN, then you have an inner desire to explore the world around you. This thirst for adventure most often requires air travel. With new airline regulations as well as the need to bring along personal supplies, medical equipment, and your ever-important wheelchair, traveling may seem like an overwhelming endeavor. Relax! We are here to provide you with some tips to help your trip run smoothly so that you have even more time for adventure!
When booking your flight, you should immediately make the airline aware of your disability and your needs. Many times, you can reserve a seat close to the front of the plane, or even in the first row-- bulkhead--which is easiest for both you and the staff who may help you on-board.
If you want, you can get assistance immediately when you arrive at the airport. They will escort you through security and to your gate. You will also have assistance getting on and off the plane, picking up your luggage and helping to get transportation.
When booking a flight, also pay close attention to the times for layovers and make certain that you have enough time for a bathroom break as well as getting to your next gate. A direct flight is always best if possible, so that you have less chance of missing the next one or losing your luggage.
You may be asked how much your chair weighs without you in it. Figure this out before heading to the airport. They ask in order to find out if they can carry it from the jetway down a flight of stairs to cargo, which saves them time...but, it can be risky. If there isn't an automatic lift to lower the chair from the jetway, say "it's very heavy" or tell them NOT to take it down the stairs. They have other options, which take more time, but will give you more peace of mind.