air plane travel

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clark evenchik

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How do We travel by plane with electric chair and bipap machine?
Dare I mention toilets on plane?
I have a 14 hour flight from Israel to LA
I am worried
 

Al

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Hello Clark and welcome to the forum. I don't have any personal knowledge to impart but have seen a lady in Cuba with a power chair and they transferred her to a small chair that would fit the aisle in the plane and a baggage guy took the power chair down and loaded it in the baggage compartment. When we got to Cuba they had baggage guys carry the small chair down the stairs to her chair. The Bipap may be more of a problem. I need one too and contacted one charter airline and it was going to be such a hassle to use I stayed home. My son is in the Philippines and the flight is 21 hours so I don't go. I am not sure if the larger airlines would let you use an inverter such as they use for computers or use one of the new gel pack battery packs. You could call the airline and ask to speak to their medical dept. Hope this helps.
AL.
 

quadbliss

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Hi Clark,

I have several suggestions and comments concerning air travel with a power wheelchair. These are just pointers that we have picked up along the way.

You should always call the airline a week or so ahead to inform them that you will be traveling with a wheelchair. Arrive at the airport at least three hours early so you will have enough time to get through security. You should insist on staying in your wheelchair all the way to the gate. This is your right. You will be allowed to pre-board the aircraft. The airline will provide attendants who will help you transfer from your chair into an aisle chair, roll you into the plane, and transfer you into the airplane seat.

When the airline asks you if you have wet or dry cell batteries in your wheelchair, say "dry". The manuals they are working from are outdated and don't include the option "non-spillable gel cell". If you answer anything other than "dry", they will probably make you disconnect and remove the batteries from their solid, well protected box in your wheelchair, and place them into flimsy cardboard boxes (to prevent them from spilling). If they try to do this, there should be a label attached to the top of the batteries that includes the words, "non-spillable gel cell, approved for air travel, FAA approved" or something like that. You should check this out ahead of time and point it out to the airline officials if necessary.

They will also ask you to disconnect the power so that the wheelchair does not inadvertently move during flight. You should check this out ahead of time. There is probably some type of a quick disconnect type plug that will easily isolate the batteries.

It is a good idea to look your wheelchair over for any protruding or loose parts. Our first experience taking my electric wheelchair on an airplane was our trip to Australia. Because of the various regions we visited, the trip consisted of eight separate legs of flight. When the wheelchair was returned to us after each flight, there was something else missing, broken, or bent. Also, the Boeing 737 aircraft has a baggage compartment door that is only 29 inches high. This means they will probably have to lay your wheelchair on its side if you will be flying on this type of plane and they aren't very careful about it. I know this all sounds terrifying, but now I will explain the steps we have taken to minimize, or eliminate, the damage. In order to reduce the height of the wheelchair to 29 inches so that it can be rolled in, we have practiced and perfected a method of quickly breaking it down into a compact, roll-able package. First we remove the seat cushion. I use this on the airplane. The head rest, the armrests, and the leg rests are then removed. The back rest is folded forward onto the seat and all of the aforementioned parts. except the seat cushion, are carefully stacked on top. We use a ratcheting motorcycle tie down strap to wrap around and secure the bundle. Next, we attach two brightly colored, laminated signs that illustrate the method of setting and releasing the brakes. The signs are affixed using Velcro. We also remove the rubber parts of the joystick and carry them with us on the airplane.

Although none of this is required, by using these techniques, we rarely encounter any significant damage or problems. But when traveling in a wheelchair, there are bound to be a few hiccups in your plan. You just have to roll with the punches, and keep smiling. In the end, it's all worth it!

Concerning urinating while travelling, I use a condom catheter. I wear them every day, all day. We originally tried them for air travel, but found them to be so convenient, that we use them all of the time. My hands and arms are completely paralyzed, so Jen had to help me every time I needed to urinate (and I have a very small bladder). We ordered the catheters and upgraded to the 32 oz. leg bag which means that I now only have to bother Jen two or three times a day. When the bag gets full we empty it into a standard urinal bottle, which then gets dumped into the toilet, and rinsed. The urinal bottle lives in the backpack on the back of my wheelchair. On travel day we always empty the bag just before boarding the airplane. I then have 32 oz. to work with. If it is an extremely long flight, Jen can empty my leg bag without me having to leave my seat.

Emptying my leg bag when we are out and about, was uncomfortable at first, but we don't worry about it anymore. Because I needed Jen's help, it was obvious that we would have to enter a public restroom together. We decided that the women's room would be best because women take care of their business behind a closed-door, inside of a stall. I wait outside while Jenny checks to be sure that there is an available, accessible stall. She then drives me directly through the bathroom and into the stall. I look straight ahead so that I don't make anyone feel uncomfortable. We have done this hundreds of times and no one has ever complained.

As far as the Bi-Pap goes, I have not flown since I needed it 24/7. I think Al has the right idea. (Sorry this post is so long, but most of it was cut and pasted from my website.)

Mike
 

Al

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Great information Mike. Thanks again. Sure glad to have you here.
AL.
 

quadbliss

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Thanks Al. I enjoy being here.

Mike
 
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