Air travel itself can also be stressful and difficult for some people, and when you add a child with a wheelchair into the mix, flying can be even more difficult. But it does not have to be.
If you are in the greater Asheville, NC area, getting to and from the airport can be the easiest part of your trip if you use Loyal Lifts for your transportation needs. Loyal Lifts employees can also offer practical advice at the airport to assist you further as you depart their vehicle and enter the next phase of your journey.
To ensure a safe trip, there are practical steps you can take to fly with a child in a wheelchair.
Travel Assistance for Your Child in a Wheelchair
The world has become more accessible since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Destinations are adding smoother curb cuts and accessible transportation to better welcome travelers of all abilities.
Despite these societal adaptations, flying with a child in a wheelchair offers unique challenges for parents and caregivers. However, you must understand that airports are required by law to provide extra services for people with disabilities, but it is your responsibility to notify airport officials of your child’s special wheelchair needs.
Airport Assistance Requirements for a Child in a Wheelchair
Although you may be totally able to navigate through the airport and on and off of a plane with your child in a wheelchair if you need assistance, airport officials are required by law to give assistance, but you must notify them of your need.
Airlines are required to provide assistance to passengers with a disability as they navigate through different portions of the airport; this includes:
- Assisting you from the terminal entrance (or vehicle drop-off point) to the gate location where your flight is departing, including the security checkpoint, and onto the aircraft to your seat; and
- Assisting you from your aircraft seat on an arriving flight through the airport to the gate location of your connecting flight (if you have a connection); and
- Assisting you from the gate location of your connecting flight to your seat on the aircraft; and
- Assisting you from your aircraft seat on an arriving flight through the airport to the baggage claim area, terminal entrance, or vehicle pick-up location.
When providing assistance to passengers with disabilities who are navigating the airport, airlines are also required to provide assistance to passengers in the key functional areas of the airport (ex., ticket counters, baggage claim, etc.).
When providing assistance to passengers with disabilities who are navigating the airport, airlines are required to assist passengers in carrying their gate-checked or carry-on luggage when passengers are unable to carry the luggage due to their disability.
When an airline is providing assistance to a passenger who is not independently mobile because of a disability, the airline must not leave the passenger unattended for more than 30 minutes. This requirement applies even if another person is accompanying the passenger unless the passenger explicitly states that it is okay for the airline to leave them unattended for more than 30 minutes.
Planning for Your Flight with a Child in a Wheelchair
1. Before Your Trip
- You should make reservations as early as possible and advise the airline what type of assistance you will need. For example, you should indicate whether you need wheelchair assistance or guided assistance.
- Request an airport wheelchair when you make your reservation if you are unable to walk long distances.
- If you travel with a battery-powered wheelchair, you must arrive at the airport 1 hour prior to the normal check-in time.
- Confirm your accessibility needs with all airlines involved in your journey.
2. At the Airport
- Arrive at the airport as early as possible to allow time to check any baggage, go through the security screening, and board the plane.
- When you arrive at the airport, it is important that you self-identify as a passenger with a disability needing assistance. Although the airline may have noted in your reservation that you need assistance, the airline will not know that you are the person who requested that assistance if you do not self-identify.
- Be alert to gate and flight time changes and notify airline personnel of your need to move to a different gate if necessary.
- Advise airline personnel at the boarding gate of any assistance you may need (e.g., pre-board, assistance with carry-on luggage, or moving within the aircraft).
- You are entitled to stay in your own wheelchair until you get to the gate. At the gate, your wheelchair will be taken from you. If you cannot walk, you will be transported to your aircraft seat in an aisle chair. Your wheelchair will be returned to you at the gate once you reach your destination.
3. On the Aircraft
- Advise the flight attendants if you need assistance storing/retrieving your carry-on luggage or other assistance during the flight.
- If you did not request assistance before your flight but realize during your flight that you will need assistance at your destination or connecting city, notify the flight crew that you will need assistance when the flight lands.
- If you need wheelchair assistance to get off of the aircraft, you should know that airlines generally provide this assistance after all other passengers have deplaned.
Traveling with a child in a wheelchair can be challenging, but if pre-planning is done, these challenges can be mitigated. It is important to remember that airport staff are required by law to assist you if you need help, but it is your responsibility to alert them that you have a child with disabilities when you arrive or during the ticket reservation process.
Loyal Lifts Transportation Services
To make your trip even easier, Loyal Lifts can assist you in traveling from your home to the airport and can be there at the airport when you return to safely transport you back to your home with their Door-to-Door Wheelchair Accessible Transportation.