You bought or are buying a mobility scooter so that you could move around easier and enrich your quality of life.
Yet, I’m sure you will feel cheated if you can’t take part in long distance vacations where you have to take a plane…
I mean this is probably what you were dreaming about from the beginning!
Thankfully, there is no need to feel this way.
Taking a mobility scooter on an airplane is a simple and painless experience, once you know what to expect and what is expected of you.
So whether you are hopping on a plane for your summer vacation or to visit family for the holidays, keep reading.
You are about to learn 4 essential tips to help make your travel go as smooth as possible.
1. Make Sure You Notify The Airline ASAP
If you need a mobility scooter, then you need a mobility scooter.
Most airlines won’t contend this and will go to a lot of effort to accommodate you.
…You might even get priority boarding and may not be charged for the extra “luggage”.
However, as nice as they are about it, they will be deviating from their normal routine.
You will be able to help them out a lot by notifying them prior to arrival at the airport of your extra travel requirements.
Upwards of 48 hours ought to be plenty of time.
What will happen when you arrive at the airport* is that:
- You will check in your mobility scooter at the gate (Free of charge)
- Your mobility scooter will possibly be disassembled or driven by a member of staff into the cargo hold
- You will be given a spare wheelchair or scooter to take you to the plane
- On arrival you will be then given another spare wheelchair or scooter until you reach baggage collection, where you will pick up your mobility scooter again (and your other luggage of course!)
*Don’t forget to remove any extra accessories and make sure you have a full charge before you get to the airport!
2. Check Your Mobility Scooter’s Specifications
Not all mobility scooters are created equal.
Some are bigger, heavier and harder to transport.
Others are lighter and can either be disassembled or folded up to be more portable.
I wrote an article that should help you prioritize these different features to your own situation, which you can read here.
Depending on you, these choices may make your life harder when traveling by plane.
You’re going to need to do a bit of leg work here, but it is well worth dealing with the hassle here rather than at the airport.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Find the airline’s guidelines on traveling with a mobility scooter or wheelchair and check the specifications they allow. If you can’t find it then ring them or email them and have them send you the information
- Check your user manual for specifications of your mobility scooter. Check out and compare the specifications stated by the airline and of your mobility scooter – these are usually the weight and dimensions
- This is very important! Check out what kind of battery you use and whether it is allowed by the airline. Like I said in my article on the best fold up mobility scooters of 2017, some batteries become fire hazards if they become damaged – like if they fell or something fell on them during a turbulent flight!
- This may become a factor in who you book your flights with or when you fly so just bear in mind, you may have to check a few airlines. Then again many mobility scooter manufacturers keep that kind of that information, so you could also just ask them if they’re scooters are allowed on a particular airline.
3. Allow More Time Than You Used To – You’re Going To Take Longer…
You would normally be advised to give yourself two hours before a flight to go through the whole system.
With a mobility scooter…
…I would say give yourself an extra half hour, at least, if not another hour.
(This may be overkill, but I personally always edge on the side of caution)
You are going to have a few extra steps in that system and some others are just going to take longer…
Look it comes down to basically this:
- You need to check in your mobility scooter after all your luggage, which will need to be either folded or disassembled
- Going through security the officers will be obliged to check your mobility scooter for contraband as well as you yourself.
- Airports are busy places, you will more than likely be maneuvering through a crowd. Expect to be slowed down.
4. Take Steps To Make Sure Your Mobility Scooter Isn’t Damaged
The last tip to consider is to be aware that you will be leaving your mobility scooter in the scare of others for a few hours.
My dad always had a saying when I was growing up:
“Lend and mend” – no one will look after your stuff as good as you would yourself.
Here are several ideas you should consider using to ensure your mobility scooter is well taken care of and isn’t accidentally damaged:
- Tie-wrap your keys to the scooter, or use fishing line – just make sure the attachment device is not stretchy or easily broken
- Provide a photocopy of the instructions on how to disassemble or fold the scooter. Or better yet, instruct the staff on how to do it personally so you can sneakily supervise them
- Secure the throttle in the slowest position and leave a note or removable tape saying “Do Not Remove” or “Do Not Alter”. In general make it as easy as possible for the airline staff to give your scooter back to you the way they received it
- Don’t forget to take this last opportunity to remove any accessories, such as baskets, lights or seat cushions, which can be easily removed from the scooter
There Is Also An Alternative Way To Travel Without YOUR Mobility Scooter
If this seems like a lot of hassle to go through or you don’t have a scooter that is portable, then you still have the option of renting a mobility scooter at your destination.
A lot of people find this easier to deal with.
There are a lot of firms that will be available in whatever area you are staying to help you out – just do a quick search.
A lot of these places even do home delivery.
If you are staying in a hotel then the hotel staff may contact the rental firm for you, or they may even rent scooters themselves.
Just ask, give them enough notice and they will be more than happy to help you.
Still have questions?…
There is a lot of excellent information out there on this topic alone.
Other great sources of information you may find useful in your research include:
- US Medical Supplies who have a ton of excellent info pages
- Accessible Journeys who are entirely geared towards travel info for people with mobility issues
- FAA Guidelines – Its always best to be aware of the legal side of things. Section (17) is particularly relevant.
With that I wish you all happy travels, wherever you are headed