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copperwindow
09-16-2017, 05:45 PM
Can I bring a motorized wheelchair on an airplane in any country in the world, or can some airlines refuse them?

Dewey Finn
09-16-2017, 06:15 PM
I suspect that many bush planes, such as used in Alaska or Australia, don’t have the cargo capacity to carry most motorized wheelchairs. In addition, airlines overseas aren’t subject to ADA requirements for accessibility. And some motorized wheelchairs may exceed the weight limits for certain flights, planes or airlines.

So I think the only GQ answer to your question is no, you can’t necessarily take a motorized wheelchair on an airplane in any country in the world.

You should probably plan your trip carefully, and talk to the airlines along your itinerary in advance of travel. There are probably specialty travel agents or websites that can advise you what problems you might have.

K364
09-16-2017, 06:34 PM
Even standard wheelchairs are too wide for the aisle - you go down the jetway and at the plane's door transfer to a thin chair with no arms. Some people can walk short distances with assistance or else get strapped into the thin chair (travel chair?) Your wheelchair then gets folded up and taken down to be loaded in the cargo hold.

Since motorized chairs weigh at least 150 pounds, this won't work at all. I'm guessing the best you can do is to check your motorized chair in as freight. So, at check-in transfer to a regular chair and somehow arrange to get the motorized one on the same plane as freight. Sounds tricky and expensive.

Richard Pearse
09-16-2017, 07:12 PM
There are two issues with a motorised wheelchair.

1. The bulk. This may restrict you from being able to put it in some aircraft.
2. The battery. This is a dangerous good and at some, if not all, airlines, will need specific approval.

copperwindow
09-16-2017, 07:23 PM
There are two issues with a motorised wheelchair.

1. The bulk. This may restrict you from being able to put it in some aircraft.
2. The battery. This is a dangerous good and at some, if not all, airlines, will need specific approval.

It is because of the battery that they refused. The other airlines have no problem with it, but this airline says no wheelchair battery.

rsat3acr
09-16-2017, 07:23 PM
Even standard wheelchairs are too wide for the aisle - you go down the jetway and at the plane's door transfer to a thin chair with no arms. Some people can walk short distances with assistance or else get strapped into the thin chair (travel chair?) Your wheelchair then gets folded up and taken down to be loaded in the cargo hold.

Since motorized chairs weigh at least 150 pounds, this won't work at all. I'm guessing the best you can do is to check your motorized chair in as freight. So, at check-in transfer to a regular chair and somehow arrange to get the motorized one on the same plane as freight. Sounds tricky and expensive.

don't know their official policy but I fly American every week and what I've seen them do is take the motorized wheel chair from the person at the gate not at check in.

K364
09-16-2017, 07:57 PM
rsat3acr - interesting. How does the motorized wheelchair get from the gate to the cargo hold?

rsat3acr
09-16-2017, 08:29 PM
rsat3acr - interesting. How does the motorized wheelchair get from the gate to the cargo hold?

Gate agent takes it down the jetway and out the door to the tarmac

LSLGuy
09-16-2017, 08:45 PM
By law in the US, motorized wheelchairs must be carried if the airplane is physically large enough to carry it. But it goes in the cargo hold, not in the passenger cabin. And the battery is treated as Dangerous Goods under the DOT regulations. Which leads to some extra paperwork for all involved.

Typically the user can operate their chair to the bottom of the jetbridge just outside the aircraft. If the person can walk at all, they'll walk, leaning on whoever whatever is necessary to get to their seat. If the person can't walk at all, they'll be loaded onto the narrow chair K364 mentioned (an "aisle chair" in the argot) and wheeled by staff to their seat. The aisle chair is airport-owned equipment and will stay at the departing airport.

A similar even smaller folding device is standard airline equipment on the airplane and can be used to move a passenger to the lavatory in flight. Carriers differ on how much they'll have crewmembers help versus insisting the passenger either bring their own helper or do without enroute.


The OP might get better answers if the question was more specific and contained more background info. There's damn near nothing but gravity that's uniform the world over. And even that varies a bit if you look closely enough. Given the unhappy consequences for getting this wrong, the more info you can share, the better advice you'll get.

JHBoom
09-17-2017, 06:05 PM
I just started flying internationally with a CPAP machine this past summer. In an effort to avoid any unpleasant surprises at airport security checkpoints & gates, I did some research re: air travel with medical equipment, and found that that many airlines have a department dedicated to assisting passengers with medical issues (to include durable medical equipment).

I'd advise you to spend some time on the website of your airline of choice, search for "passenger medical equipment" or words to that effect, find the phone number/email address of the department that handles these issues for that specific airline, and get the Straight Dope directly from the source.

bob++
09-18-2017, 04:29 AM
I have not "travelled" with a wheelchair, but have used wheelchair assistance a couple of times. The above advice is spot on; we found that the two airlines we dealt with (BA and Lufthansa) were very helpful.