The Disability Talk – Can You Travel On An Airplane With a Wheelchair?

My years in social work have brought me to meet many fabulous people who have suffered unfortunate events. Whether it was a mental disability that occurred from a situation, or physical, I have helped those with paralysis,  broken bones, and loss of feeling in certain parts of the body.

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If you’re in a wheelchair, have you wondered if you can get on a plane? If you can ever take another trip again In your life?

The simple answer is YES!

One of the persons I meet with regularly just went to Puerto Rico on a plane from NYC. He had a stroke a few years ago and is paralyzed on the right half of his body. He needs Home Aides 24/7 to help him with simple daily routines.

Yet, he went!

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation – let them know it’s not impossible.  Here’s the airline rules you should know before you go:

  • Airlines cannot refuse anyone with a disability! Wheelchairs are always welcome.
  • After you book the airline ticket, call the airline to inform them that you’re traveling in a wheelchair.
  • Arrive 1 hour early than what is listed on the airlines’ check in rules. If they say you have to arrive 2 hours prior to international flights, you arrive 3 hours before.
  • This is so you have priority and the airport staff can assist you.
  • The airline can choose to check in or stow your wheelchair in the plane in a safe spot and have you use their model wheelchair for some time. You can ask if they have a special aisle seat or row for a wheelchair instead of it being checked in.
  • You will be called first to board the plane along with any children.
  • If you need 24/7 assistance, let the airline know so someone can come to check in on your needs frequently throughout the flight.

For long flights, it’s advised to have someone fly with you. My client went with his friend on a 2 hour flight and needed no assistance. Anything longer than that or 3 hours may require individual care.

Bigger aircrafts are more comfortable not only for seats but for aisle space and bathrooms as well. Beware of the small bathrooms in tiny aircrafts as it will be more uncomfortable to get In and out of them.

There you have it. If you’re planning a trip, talk with the ones that help take care of you and any family and friends. They will help you with the details.

Let us know here if you took yourself on a trip if you were disabled or if you’re thinking of going on one in the future.