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Help: traveling with limited mobility

romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34213 replies770 threads Senior Member
I'll be traveling to England with my mom in a few weeks. This will be the first time I've traveled since I got sick (complicated case of Lupus and RA overlap). The biggest hurdle will be the fact that I'm in a wheelchair. I can walk short distances but definitely not around an airport. The wheelchair is not electronic and I don't have the strength to push myself so my mom will have to push me.

So any tips on how to make this work? I don't know how we'll make it around the airport with suitcases while being pushed. How do wheelchairs work with going through security?

Help!

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Replies to: Help: traveling with limited mobility

  • runnersmomrunnersmom 2462 replies37 threads Senior Member
    You can request wheelchair assistance from your airline in advance of your trip. I traveled to Europe with my mother and was able to indicate the need for assistance on our reservation. We were not traveling with a wheelchair, so the airline provided one. When we arrived i checked with an airline rep and they directed us how to get the chair and then the person helped us check in, go through security, and travel to the gate. The wheelchair/assistant was waiting on the gangway when we landed and proceeded to help us through customs and immigration, as well. We did not have our suitcases with us on that trip (checked them), but on a more recent trip I pulled them while she was being pushed. Check your airlines website for particular details. Good luck with the trip!
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  • hrh19hrh19 887 replies1 threads Member
    edited June 2016
    We are able to make arrangements for one of those motorized carts when we travel with my mom. Even before she was dependent on a walker, she couldn't walk through an airport. I believe we arranged this through the airline, in her case this was Delta. Google your airline and travel with disabilities.

    Have a great trip!
    edited June 2016
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  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 4179 replies30 threads Senior Member
    You can probably request wheelchair support in the airport through your airline. There seem to be more and more people in wheelchairs every time we travel internationally. Last week when going through immigration in Chicago, there was a dedicated wheelchair line.
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  • trojanchick99trojanchick99 725 replies1 threads Member
    The airport should be the easiest part. It may be more difficult in England, since in general Europe isn't as accessible as the US.
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  • travelnuttravelnut 2046 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Airport has staff to push wheel chairs and help navigate TSA. When I have needed that, one staff person pushed wheelchair, another took bags with us. They also have a way to pre-board you in a narrow chair that fits down plane aisles if needed. Choose seats carefully for easy access. Talk to airlines to confirm in advance. I found the willingness to help with these issues very high, both domestically and internationally.

    Have a great trip.
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  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 18017 replies164 threads Senior Member
    This will be the first time I've traveled since I got sick (complicated case of Lupus and RA overlap). The biggest hurdle will be the fact that I'm in a wheelchair.

    I really hate to hear that, Romani.

    I second trying to get one of those motorized cars to pick you up and take you where you need to go. I see them all the time at my airport.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34213 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Thank you all so much.

    We haven't ordered our tickets yet because I'm still waiting for the OK from doctors that I'm good to travel. As soon as I know who we're flying with, I'll contact them to see what we can set up. One of those motorized cart thingies would probably be perfect.

    @trojanchick99 thank you for that. I hadn't even thought of the whole getting around England thing. I was just concentrating on actually getting there! Luckily we're going to see family and I believe my great aunt is in a wheelchair so hopefully they have figured out how to navigate with a chair.
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  • bookwormbookworm 9247 replies74 threads Senior Member
    May I suggest you get travel insurance? I know with an MD note, you can get tickets refunded, but much easier with the insurance.
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  • CTmom2018CTmom2018 822 replies12 threads Member
    edited June 2016
    As far as getting around England, have you considered purchasing (and checking) a travel wheelchair? These are lightweight and smaller than full size chairs-- easy to get through doorways in homes that have narrow doorways. There are a number listed on Amazon.

    I bought one that was something like one for when I took my mother places; it stowed easily in the trunk and the legs swing away and come off. Mine folded a bit differently, but you get the idea.
    https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Medical-Travelite-Transport-Wheelchair/dp/B00ER2TI5A/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1467072702&sr=8-5&keywords=travel+wheelchair

    She was comfortable in it for day trips. I also bought the seat cushion and the chair back pack that are suggested at the bottom of the page.

    There are better ones with hand brakes, and some are aluminum.
    I even see one that comes with its own wheeled travel suitcase, but it is much more expensive. Still, if you plan to do more traveling, this might be a good thing to have..

    https://www.amazon.com/Travel-Wheelchair-Protective-Suitcase-Standard/dp/B01G9DUHXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467073102&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=travel+wheelchair&psc=1
    edited June 2016
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34213 replies770 threads Senior Member
    This is the one that I have: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002VWK1TA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I really only use the wheelchair out of the house so I wanted something that was very light and easy to travel with. I have a big bulky one at home but I've never actually used it (my in-laws gave it to me).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83295 replies740 threads Senior Member
    Even when buying an airline ticket on the web, there may be a place in the buying process to indicate special needs (e.g. wheelchair user). You may want to indicate that when buying on the airline web site and calling the airline just to make sure.

    But you may want to investigate accessibility at your destination, particularly outside the airport (including transportation like subways, buses, taxis, etc.).
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  • HImomHImom 36007 replies396 threads Senior Member
    I'd check with the airlines you plan to buy with BEFORE you buy the ticket, since I'd prefer to buy with an airline that will help make it as easy as possible. Most airlines have a dedicated disabilities desk that can help with these issues and you can specify your issues and what you'd like, including being wheeled to baggage claim, through TSA, etc. You can also specify whether you can walk once you reach the plane or need a wheelchair to get to your seat (which requires a special, very narrow aisle wheelchair).

    Yes, there are more and more people who realize that they can still travel, even when they need the help of a wheelchair, supplemental oxygen, or other assistance. Have a great trip. If energy is an issue, consider asking your relatives to look into renting you a motorized scooter. I had a friend who rented one to get around Moscone Center in SF. It really saved her having to talk all the miles we went around that huge conference center and nearby hotels! I'm sure there are scooter rentals available in most major cities.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34213 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Oh I hadn't even thought about rentals. They live in the countryside but we'd be flying into London and heading out from there.
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  • HImomHImom 36007 replies396 threads Senior Member
    I'm sure you'll be fine, and as you say, they've had some experience helping your relative with her limited walking issues. Have a fabulous trip! I'd call the disability desks of all the airlines you're considering before booking your trip, just to see what services they say they will offer you. If it's anything like oxygen, they can differ considerably.
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 34213 replies770 threads Senior Member
    Thank you all again :)

    I'm still getting used to this so I don't even know where to start. It looks like I'll be making a few phone calls tomorrow!
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  • dragonmomdragonmom 6112 replies155 threads Senior Member
    If you are renting a car, contact the company about airport services. I haven't used it overseas, but Hertz has very nice shuttle to and from those distant car rental places once they see your disability hang tag They have a driver jump into your rental car and circle back to your gate area and help with luggage. It's such a help. Best to you and the Mr.
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  • lb5lb5 43 replies5 threads Junior Member
    At Detroit Metro in the Delta terminal there is a wheelchair station just inside one of the middle doors of departure drop off. They have wheelchairs and attendants there and I think no reservation or fee needed. There is a rack under the wheelchair seat for carryon, I think. The attendants push the wheelchairs thru security and then on to the gates. Bon Voyage
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  • learninginproglearninginprog 1094 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Hope you get the ok from your Doc @romanigypsyeyes. You deserve a trip, bon voyage.
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  • psych_psych_ 1461 replies122 threads Senior Member
    For TSA, if you can physically handle the required walking/standing metal detector or full body scanner, you can walk through that and have them gunpowder test the wheelchair (you could also put it through the x-ray machine if it folds down thin enough, I think). If you can't, you can "opt out" and get a patdown and GP test in lieu of the mental detector or scanner. As for the plane, get to the gate early and ask for a gate check for the wheelchair and to board early. Don't ask for an aisle chair unless you absolutely need one and be prepared to be the last person off of the plane as you wait for your wheelchair to be brought to you (they bring them right up to the plane entrance). As others have said, almost every airline lets you indicate this when you buy a ticket, though you'll still have to tell everything to the gate agent every time. Do not expect the airport to have electronic carts and do not expect to have one waiting for you if you have a connecting flight to make. Tip your wheelchair driver, if you have one. Good luck!
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  • nottellingnottelling 4269 replies60 threads Senior Member
    I recall you saying that you are 6'0" tall and all legs. As a 6' woman with RA who does NOT have mobility issues but still has a LOT of pain, I can tell you that the flight is going to be very, very difficult. With the flare-ups you've been having, I don't think you should even attempt that length of flight unless you get AT LEAST an economy plus seat. A regular economy seat with your legs wedged in with limited ability to adjust would be torture for a long flight -- I mean torture quite literally. Will you have enough mobility to walk up and down the aisles from time to time during the flight?

    Please, do what it takes to upgrade to an economy plus seat!
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