For many, the process of travelling, especially if air travel is involved somewhere in the equation, is enough of a nightmare. However, if you factor a disability into the equation and have to transport a wheelchair with you during your travels, the process can get downright headache inducing. However, this is not the way that it should be, and with these simple tips, you’ll quickly see how to make travelling with a wheelchair a cinch.
— Know What to Expect: It is good to familiarise yourself with what you can expect during the travel process at the airport. Those who are planning on travelling with wheelchairs that are battery-powered are expected to arrive an hour prior to the normal check in time. You are also able to request an airport wheelchair while you are making your flight reservation. If you are bringing your own wheelchair, it’s smart to let the airline know what type of assistive device you are bringing with you in order to allow them to accommodate you properly.
— Attach Instructions for Assembly and Disassembly: Before you head to the airport, it is a good idea to attach instructions for assembly and disassembly of your wheelchair to it, in both English and Spanish. This is because, if the airline has to disassemble your wheelchair for travel, they are required to return it to you fully assembled. Providing them with instructions to complete this process quickly and efficiently will make your entire travel process go more smoothly.
— Know Your Rights at Security: Going through security, if you are unable to go through the metal detector, you will be hand-wanded and given a manual pat down. You are also entitled to a private screening, if you wish, with a anyone of your choice present to accompany you.
— If Things Go Wrong: If you run into any accessibility issues, ask to speak to the Complaint Resolution Official, or CRO. They are specifically trained to handle any accessibility issues on the spot and resolve any problems you may run into. If you run into any disasters during your travel process, and feel that you might be entitled to monetary compensation for any damages, you should definitely consider filing a written complaint with the airline after you arrive safely at your destination. Be careful of deadlines, though, and keep in mind that airlines are not required to provide a response at all to complaints if they have a postmark of anything later than 45 days after the incident occurred. If your complaint is filed in a timely manner, however, the airline is required to respond within 30 days.
So long as you know what to expect when you are at the airport, and understand what your rights are while travelling, you are sure to get through your trip without a hitch. Happy travelling!