What should I consider when traveling by plane if I use a power wheelchair?

When you are traveling by plane with a power wheelchair, there are several additional elements that you need to address when booking and getting on your flight. First and foremost, make sure you know what type of batteries you have. "Wet" batteries must be removed from the chair and boxed up in special containers because of the risk of acid spillage. Check with your carrier to find out if you need to box up the batteries beforehand or if they will do that for you.

"Dry" or gel batteries don't need to be removed from the chair. When you check in (which you must do at the gate even if you already did at the ticket counter), you will be asked what type of batteries you have so that your crew is notified in advance. Sometimes, although the batteries are not removed, they are unplugged during the flight. So, when you get your chair once you've arrived at your destination and the power doesn't work, check to see if the batteries are unplugged before having a panic attack!

And in case of a real breakdown, make sure to pack your repair tools (these will not be allowed in your carry-on so put them in your checked baggage) and a pneumatic tire repair kit. If you're traveling domestically and have access to a computer, you may want to print out and pack a list of any wheelchair or bike shops that may be near your travel destination. To be most proactive, you can even service your wheelchair before you go on your trip!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.