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Flying as a wheelchair consumer is rarely straightforward—however these 6 tips assist me each time

The world has turn out to be extra accessible for the reason that enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Destinations are including smoother curb cuts, wheelchair-friendly attractions, and accessible transportation to raised welcome vacationers of all skills.

However, regardless of these societal diversifications, wheelchair customers are offered with one other drawback: How will we get to these destinations with out our wheelchairs getting broken throughout flight? Airlines injury a mean of 29 wheelchairs per day, and it is one thing I fear about each time I fly.

As a wheelchair consumer and frequent traveller, I’ve discovered from expertise that there are some issues that make flying simpler although—on the subject of defending your self, your chair, and decreasing stress and discomfort through the journey. Below, my prime eight tips for flying as a wheelchair consumer.

1. Call the airline

As quickly as you have booked your flight, name the airline instantly. Remind them of if you find yourself flying, giving them your affirmation quantity, and clarify that you just will probably be bringing your wheelchair. Let them know particulars of your chair—peak, weight, size, and width—to reduce points if you arrive on the airport. If you may have a powered wheelchair, you will have to allow them to know in case your battery is both moist, dry, or gel cell. (If you’re unsure what kind of battery you may have, name your wheelchair provider to search out out.). Tell the airline about any private wants as properly, like should you want the aisle chair to board the airplane, or if you will have assistants to assist switch you into your airplane seat.

2. Store any detachable wheelchair components

Once you’re on the airplane door and able to board, take away any components of your wheelchair that you do not need the airline or floor crew to break. I all the time take away my headrest and knee helps, however some wheelchairs even have a joystick that may unplug and detach (if yours does, I’d recommend eradicating it).

I all the time convey a tote bag to retailer these components in, and I carry my cushion with me onto the airplane and place it in my seat. The closet on the airplane is the proper spot to hold your spare components, so they’re protected through the journey—flight attendants are all the time completely happy to help with this. Removing components earlier than boarding permits me to be most comfy through the flight and fewer burdened about what may get broken.

3. Pack a backpack with quick-fix provides

After flying time and time once more, there are a number of objects I’ll now not fly with out. I all the time pack a backpack with a number of “quick fix” provides. Zip ties and duct tape are helpful for a fast restore in case your wheelchair will get barely broken through the flight. I additionally prefer to pack bubble wrap, masking tape, and a plastic bag in order that I can seal my joystick (since mine doesn’t simply take away) by wrapping the bubble wrap round it, placing the plastic bag over that in case it’s raining on the vacation spot upon arrival, after which wrapping the masking tape across the bag to carry it in place. Several strips of velcro in numerous lengths may come in useful if the aisle chair doesn’t have sufficient straps that will help you really feel protected or if additional “harnesses” are wanted all through your journey. I’d additionally recommend packing straws in your carry-on bag if consuming with out them may be tough for you, as most airways now not have them onboard.

4. Purchase a sling or raise

If you’re unable to help with transfers, it’s possible you’ll wish to buy a sling with handles to position beneath you. This will permit airport employees to finest aid you into your airplane seat with out uncomfortably manhandling. I’ve two slings which are each good for a simple switch: One is the ableSling and the opposite is The Perfect Lift. Both are comfy when beneath me and have handles that the airline employees can use, and so they permit me to remain in a seated place whereas transitioning from the wheelchair to the aisle chair after which the aisle chair to the airplane seat. Everyone’s wants are completely different, so a very powerful factor is selecting a switch sling that works finest for you.

5. Plan in your restroom wants

As a wheelchair consumer, with the ability to entry the restroom whereas flying may be greater than difficult. Restrooms on planes are very small, and if it’s essential to switch onto the bathroom there’s not a number of room to manoeuvre throughout the area. Even worse than that, if you’re not capable of switch your self and want whole help, the area for the additional individuals simply doesn’t exist. Until the day comes when airplanes are absolutely accessible, there are just a few choices for us wheelchair customers that may assist.

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