A large number of persons with disabilities, who have never flown in airplane, feel worried about air travel. Their primary concerns are usually:
- Airport is a large place. How am I going to walk such a big area?
- Airplane is huge. How will I enter the airplane?
- How will I go through check-in, security etc.
- I have never flown before, I don’t know anything about it.
- I have never been to so and so airport, I don’t know how it will be.
These, and many others, are often asked questions by WeCapable readers. Today, I am publishing all the answers!
Relax! It’s Very Easy to Travel by Air
Persons with disabilities, elderly and anybody else who has problem in walking can seek wheelchair assistance at all the airports around India and the world. All the airlines are duty-bound to provide wheelchair assistance to those who seek it. Also, it’s free and you do not need to pay anything extra for this service.
How to Book Wheelchair Assistance for Air Travel
While booking your ticket, make sure you request wheelchair assistance under the special services category.
It is advisable that you make a call to the airline customer service a couple of days before your flight. Call them and reconfirm that your request for wheelchair has been properly recorded.
SEE ALSO: Useful Things for Wheelchair Users
If you have not made a prior request, you can still get wheelchair at the airport — but then there would be no guarantee and airline might not be held liable for the problems you face as a result.
In case you have not booked wheelchair in advance, just go to the airline counter at the airport and request them. They may ask you why the passenger requires a wheelchair. If they feel that the passenger may have a medical issue during the flight, they may also ask you to show Safe to Fly document (a certificate from a doctor stating that it is safe for the passenger to fly).
But, as I said, ideally you should book wheelchair in advance.
How the Wheelchair Assistance Work at Airports
When you reach the departure terminal for you flight, just go to the point where wheelchair is available:
- At some airports, you will find a dedicated place for seeking wheelchairs right outside the departure terminal. (for example at IGI Delhi Airport Terminal 1 and 3)
- In some cases, there would be a phone booth where from you can call for wheelchair assistance (for example at IGI Delhi Airport Terminal 2)
- At smaller airports you will need to go to the counter of the airline you are flying with.
If you’re traveling alone and you can not walk up to the airline counter, you can ask any airport staff to help you. A lot of airport and airlines staffer are usually stationed outside the departure terminal to help the passengers. Avoid making any queries to a security personnel.
When you get the wheelchair, you also get an attendant. This person will be responsible to ensure that you sit in your seat inside the aircraft. He will push your wheelchair, carry your luggage and get your luggage checked-in. Then he will take you through security checks and station your wheelchair at the gate from where your flight will board.
If there is still some time before the boarding begins, this person may go away to do other tasks. Don’t panic! He will come back a few minutes before the boarding time.
My Hindi Video on this Subject
Usually the passengers with wheelchair assistance board the aircraft before everyone else. In some cases, mostly on smaller terminals, a bus takes passengers from terminal gate to the aircraft. You don’t need to get up from wheelchair. Just keep sitting. Your attended will handle everything. Your wheelchair will be boarded in the bus. You don’t need to stand up at all.
When you reach the aircraft, there might be a hydraulic lift or a ramp to raise your wheelchair to the door of the aircraft. After that if you can walk a few steps and enter the aircraft, you can do that. Otherwise your wheelchair will be pushed inside the aircraft and the crew will make you comfortably sit on your seat.
Arriving at the Destination
When your flight will land at the destination airport, you will get off the aircraft after all other passengers have deboarded. Keep sitting in your seat and let all other passengers deboard. After that the cabin crew will assist you to the door of the aircraft. There you will find a wheelchair and an attendant waiting for you. You sit in the wheelchair and the attendant will take you to the baggage collection point. He will collect and carry your baggage and leave you outside the arrival terminal. You can request him to book a pre-paid taxi for you. Or you can call an Uber. If somebody is coming to pick you up, the attendant will help you sit in their vehicle.
So, you see! it’s very easy for persons with disabilities to travel by air. Do not worry about anything — if you ask me, air travel is the most convenient way of traveling for disabled people.
Let me know if you have any questions related to this issue. Also, please share your experiences and tips with us.