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If I use a wheelchair and am traveling by air, what should I do at landing?

Wheelchair-users always de-plane last. It usually takes them a while to get your chair up to the jetway - and, it's easier to maneuver around without hoards of anxious travelers and their luggage. You may get lucky and only wait a few minutes, or you may have to wait for 15 minutes or more. But once you do get in your chair, thoroughly check for damage. You might be in a hurry, but you need to take the time to make sure there aren't any new scrapes, nicks, gashes, dents, bent axles, broken spokes, missing pieces, or popped tires.

If you find damage, however big or small, you need to go to customer service in baggage claim and fill out a damage claim form. Airlines are accommodating when it comes to paying for damage done to wheelchairs, but you need to take care of this right away if this happens to you. You may choose to photograph the damage while at the airport, as well.

At this point the airline is available to help you in any way that you need to navigate through the airport and get to your baggage. Once again, it can be beneficial to use their assistance because they know where elevators are and can get you through customs quickly, if necessary. There are also porters to help you take your bags outside.

Once you are outside, keep in mind that if you are traveling by taxi, your chair will be folded and stuffed in a vehicle. You may have to guide either the taxi driver or whomever is with you so that everything is stowed away properly and safely. Depending on your travel destination, you may be able to request a mini-van or sports utility vehicle (SUV) taxi in order to optimize space, or even a wheelchair accessible van with a lift and tie-downs so that you can stay in your chair.

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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.