Flying away

Hi all,

I’m planning to fly to Austria soon, my first flight since 2008, and my first flight since I developed serious mobility problems. I need a wheelchair for anything but a few yards of walking. I would very much like to sound you all out on the best way to approach this, as I’m quite daunted by it. It boils down to a load of questions…

  • Would you take your wheelchair abroad by plane?

  • Would you check it in, or insist on taking it into the plane with you?

  • If you don’t take your wheelchair with you, is it easy to hire one in Europe?

  • Would you recommend hiring a power-chair or a manual wheelchair in Europe? (I have no strength by 3 helpers to push me around and talk behind my back)

  • If I hire a power-chair in Austria, would this make insurance impossibly expensive?

  • If I fly without a wheelchair, can I normally borrow a wheelchair at the airport to get me pushed around by my helpers? Or do I have to rely in bleeping electric buggies driven by support staff? and will they kidnap me and take me to the gate, or can they dump me in a cafe for a while and then kidnap me later?

If anyone has any other tips on flying without or without a wheelchair, or hiring wheelchairs abroad, or getting around airports, I 'd be very grateful.

Many thanks in advance,


D’oh, it should read ‘(I have no strength BUT I have 3 helpers to push me around and talk behind my back)’

Why don’t I check things before I press ‘Post’???

Travelling by aircraft seems a daunting experience for anyone Disabled in wheelchair or not, but in reality it isn’t it can be a seamless experience as you are helped every step of the way, (that’s not meant as a pun).

I worked for British Airways for 26 years, as such travelled to many parts of the World. In fact in 1988 I travelled twice around the World, some 48,000 miles in 5 days on aircraft, sponsored for Charity. Not something I would recommend but shows you it is possible.

Stick to these guidelines and you will really enjoy the experience. First on booking your flight tell them you would like assistance from check-in to the gate. This could be a wheelchair with someone pushing or a lift on a Golf type buggy. The gate could be over one mile away so don’t think your doing any favour’s by not asking for help. The aircraft has a certain slot for take off, if you are late because of walking difficulties, THE AIRCRAFT HAS TO GO without you, otherwise it costs mega bucks.

If you have problems walking down the isle when you get aircraft side, no problem, quite a few aircraft now have small wheelchairs especially to take people up and down the isle. If you can’t walk whatsoever, no problem, tell them and facilities will be put in place from check-in to take you to the aircraft by ambulance, high lift you to the aircraft and trained medical staff to lift you in the seat. The golden rule here is ‘tell them.’

With some airlines you can pre-book your seat. If so get one that has more leg room and near the toilets, probably a bulkhead seat. The Civil Aviation Authority has made a ruling that no Disabled person can have a seat by an Emergency Exit for obvious reasons.

If for some reason you get to your destination and your wheelchair is missing or worse still damaged it is the airlines, or should I say good airlines signed up to something called the Haig Protocol to restore or repair your chair, see the airlines staff.

I remember I went to San Diego from Gatwick once and they left my chair behind. I was in a rush had to go down to Tijuana and the only one they had to loan me had a large sign above my head saying ‘AVIS Rent a Car.’ The times I was stopped in my Hotel by people saying “hey fella, where can I get a car.”### ### Have a good time, don’t worry as far as flying is concerned your husband will be looked after.

Equipment used for his disability eg wheelchairs; crutches travel free. I have no idea if this extends to a travel kit but I would think they were being rather padantic if they charged; mind you I would be very careful with so called ‘budget airlines.’ Give you airline a ring to clarify.

Don’t forget your EHIC card

### George



like jane my experience is at manchester airport. i got assistance from railway to airport and once i was in chair on platform the chair (provided by railway) stayed with me til i got on the plane. last year this was all arranged within 4 days of flying-not recommended! but am better organised this year-booked airport assistance at time of booking flights and have been allocated seats free of extra charge. this is with easyjet and i cant fault their service and assistance throughout. coming back i was too poorly to travel alone (with 2 kids) so mum had to travel back with us. all 4 of us were kept together and the greeks were super efficient. even though they hadnt been paid for months and the situation is even worse this year. efaristo poli ?sp) is a phrase i am glad i have acquired! again the chair i got from the plane stayed with me til i got on the train.

have a fab time!