By Kristy LaCroix, Wheelchair Escapes
When making the booking, be sure and tell the reservation agent that your client will be traveling with a wheelchair. Tell them if it is a power or manual chair. They will want to know whether the power chair has dry or gel cell batteries. They will usually want to know the weight of the chair. If your client cannot walk or cannot walk very far they should be prepared to use an aisle chair. Knowing about the aisle chair and explaining how it works is good knowledge for you to have and will alleviate some apprehension about the whole process for your client. Make sure they have an aisle seat, where the outside arm raises. Do not assume! If your client needs a transfer board, they need to alert the gate when they check in.
Someone needing extra help to board the plane will be taken down the jet way before everyone else boards the plane. They will be assisted in transferring to an aisle chair. A picture of an aisle chair is enclosed. Most are very similar to this one. There is a strap at each shoulder that will cross over the chest and buckle at the opposite hip. Some have a strap that goes around the legs, above the knees to keep the legs in place. Most have a place for the feet. There will be helpers to assist in the transfer to the aisle chair and down to their seat. It is important for the client to tell them what to do. If the client can side transfer without help, tell them that and ask that they hold your chair and the aisle chair in place. If they cannot transfer, tell them how they would like them to assist in the transfer. They can lift or lift and slide. Feel free to explain exactly how they’d like to be helped. They will wheel the client down to your seat and assist in helping him/her into the seat. Confirm that the seat has an arm that goes up. The reverse will happen after everyone else deplanes. ALWAYS double check with the flight crew that your power chair has been loaded, before take off!
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