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Travel Insurance & Travelling Abroad

Hi All,

Not sure if i’m in the correct forum, so apologies .

I’m considering having a holiday abroad this summer, to Europe. I haven’t been abroad apart from when i was in school!, so i’m obviously very nervous. I will have my friend to help me (i use a wheelchair and am ppms) but i’d really like to hear from any of you in terms of practical support, especially wheelchair users, as to the procedures at the airport, on the plane etc; and how easy or difficult it is to get travel insurance for people with progressive MS, what is the best company for travel insurance? Hope to hear your experiences. Thanks.

Hi,

I went to Crete last year in my wheelchair with my daughter and it was all very easy.

Essentially you let the airport know (through the tour operator, airline or yourself) that you need assistance. We had help to check in from the airport door because my daughter obviously couldn’t push me AND the suitcases. At the plane we were taken on a lift to the plane door where you either walk a short way to your seat or transfer to a thin wheelchair that will fit in the aisle. Your wheelchair is then taken away and brought back at the other end.
I was advised to take off the cushion and take it on the plane. A fellow passenger also took off the feet but I didn’t.

We were given help at every step of the way. Thompsons also arranged a taxi because I couldn’t go on the bus to transfer to the hotel. So long as you let people know in advance it all seems very straightforward.

I used AllClear for my travel insurance – they spesialise in preexisting conditions.

Have fun.

Jane

We have always travelled a lot but currently tend to use an adapted caravan and ferries rather than air /hotels.

I will however give you my experience of arranging air travel.

You need to make it clear at the time of booking what assistance you require and I would suggest you get some copy of what you have said. I say this because on one trip to Australia they tried to refuse to check us in at Heathrow because they had not been advised of the disability assistance requirement. Once I brought out a copy of the assistance request signed by the travel agent the check in clerk was on the phone for ages and arranged the required assistance for all flights. Really not sure what would have happened if I could not have proved assistance was requested.

If you travel scheduled services then they are required to carry disabled people. If you travel charter then they are not but in reality it does not make much difference because what you need is a piece of paper proving your booking has been accepted with the full knowledge of your assistance requirement. You will not be travelling with a full legal team. You just need something practical to prove it has been agreed what assistance is required.

In general air travel is probably the easiest form of travel for the disabled so long as you are realistic about your state of mobility and you are certain you can cope with the agreed assistance, for instance can you use the on board toilets or are you making other arrangements.

Insurance is much the same in that if you wish to be covered you need to declare your state of health and ensure this has been accepted for cover. Strangely travel agents are least able to arrange travel insurance for people with pre existing conditions, we currently use the annual policy provided by our bank where my wife’s state of health has been declared.

In general I would say MS screws your life up quite sufficiently with out it taking away your freedom to travel, so plan carefully and if you feel you can cope with the trip, go for it. Just be realistic about what you can cope with.

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I have flown several times since using a wheelchair and have found it to be absolutely no hassle at all.

I agree with the others that you need to let the airline know at the time of booking that you need wheelchair assistance and the level of support you need.

I have always been allowed through the express check in lane (bliss, no waiting forever in queues) and use my chair in the airport right up to boarding the plane. Once I am seated they take my chair to stow it in the hold. First on but last off as they wait for everyone else to disembark before bringing my chair back to the plane. If it is tunnel boarding it is really easy, other wise you get lifted up on a hydraulic platform. This is fine as long as you don’t suffer vertigo like I do. If you do, keep your eyes closed! The other bonus is that because you need to be seated near the cabin staff I get an automatic upgrade to the better seats with more leg room. Pay for economy but get premium :slight_smile:

The only drawback I have found is that going through the metal detectors in a wheel chair means that you do set the alarms off and each time it has meant I have been subjected to a full security pat down. Which is NOT great as they just do it right there in the concourse and personally I don’t like strange people patting between my legs in public.

Not much help in regards to travel insurance as I am in Australia so I am sure there will be differences over there but I have always used my Royal Auto Clubs travel insurance and it has been fine and very cheap.

Have a great trip and enjoy yourself,

Belinda

I travelled for the first time with my wheelchair last year (to Mallorca and to Northern Spain) and it was great. I told the airline well in advance, got whisked through security using the fast track, first into the plane using the lift, seats at the front next to the loos, chair in the hold (I kept my cushion), last off at the other end (which meant that I didn’t have to wait for ages for my luggage), chair brought to me, whisked through security again. All very smooth and professional. Oh, and my husband and son came with me throughout. Only one downside - sometimes the route from the plane to the terminal can be a bit long - to avoid stairs.

As far as travel insurance goes, I use my bank’s freebie one that I get with my account. I have opted out of cover for my MS (they wanted £80). When and if I start travelling outside Europe again, I will get a policy that covers my MS though. I’m probably being a bit foolish as the European Health Card doesn’t cover return flights etc, but I’ve banked on nothing too serious happening to me when I’m away. So far I’ve been OK, but it is a gamble.

I hope you have a fabulous holiday

Karen x

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Hi, V.quickly, I recently flew with bmi and before with ba, they were wonderful, my w’chair was ‘waiting’ for me at the door of the plane when i landed, just let them know before you travel. I get my travel insurance from the Post Office.

Thank you to Catt, Karen, Belinda, David603 and Jane for all your very helpful replies to my post.

I certainly feel less nervous and actually quite looking forwards to my first proper trip abroad!

Hi I am new to this but would love to hear reccomendations for travel insurers names to contact. I have MS for 12 year and am travelling to Disneyland Paris with my 10 yr old daughter Jasmine Husband and 11 other beautiful mums dads and kids.

I am so lucky - Thanks

Px

Since I started using airport assistance three years or so ago, I have yet to have a bad experience. Initially I used crutches to walk, more recently I’ve had to use my own wheelchair. Either way, it’s been great. Because of the airport assistance, I am still able to travel on my own. I’ve never gone abroad on my own, but flown many times in the UK on my own without a hitch.

The people providing the airport assistance have been pleasant courteous and not intrusive. Hope all goes well for you.

derek

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Hi my daughter is getting married in the Dominican Republic but I am worried about how I will manage as I now have to rely on a mobility scooter to get around. Has anyone been and what is it like for people with disability, I am also worried about all the vaccination I will need and how I will react etc?

Research is key! Use the search function (top right hand of page) to put in “travel with wheelchair” and you will get dozens of hits.

I first went abroad in 2012 and 2o13. We were taking a manual at that time. As others have said BOOK ASSISTANCE at the airport, do it advance and check about a week beforehand. Getting you, chair and luggage thru is no easy task! You are allowed 5 kg extra of “medical equipment” if you put it in seperate case and label it as such. Clear it with them first. For instance mine was the chair cushion, repair kit, some cleaning essentials for chair, etc.

They stick you on first n take you off last so be patient. For insurance I reccomend Freedom, they specialise in ppl with pre-existing medical conditions. EHIC card should still be valid this year.

Wendels is right - I couldn’t have got on a coach either!

This year, we were taking my powerchair, which is larger and required a WAV taxi. Make sure you know the dimensions and weight of your chair - height, width, length. Taxi drivers want to know whether they can lift it!

If you can, get google translate on your phone - phrases such as “we need a ramp”, “where is the disabled toilet”, “I need help please” are essential.

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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 you will be looked after.

As a matter of interest, wheelchairs go to the front of any que. Do not think you are being rude you and your pusher go to the front.

George

We are taking our trip to France in May this year and are considering to buy medical insurance for travelers. I am not planning in getting sick but we are senior passengers and some times the unexpected happens so we would like to be cover in case of emergency. Just researching this site 13+ Travelers Insurance to figure out which insurance we need

We went to New York at Easter and I used assistance for the first time. It was brilliant - looked after all the time, front of every queue etc. My husband and two sons were also with me all the way. Only issue was on landing back at Manchester where they didn’t have wheelchairs ready so had to wait for ages. Gave up in the end and walked a little way with my stick until we found one! America was amazing for looking after those with disabilities. We were getting Ben priority and sent to the front of the queue at every place we visited!! Enjoy your trip xx