Air Travel with my Electric Wheelchair
Monday, April 18, 2011
I started using an electric wheelchair nearly 3 years ago. Over time it has changed my output, my independence, my social life, in other word it has changed my life for the better. For two years I used my electric chair only in and around home as electric wheelchairs are heavy and not always folding making them difficult to transport in a regular car.
Just a couple of months back I decided to travel with it to Spain. This was the first time when I took my chair by flight. I had no idea how it was all going to work out with the airlines but considering it was international travel, I knew it would be fine. Sure it did work out well and I am glad I decided to travel in it because air travel was convenient and to top it I used it in train as well as taxi travel. I other words I did not need to shift out of my chair at all while in Spain. This trip gave me a lot of confidence about traveling with my electric wheelchair.
Next it was time to try travelling with the electric wheelchair within India. On one occasion when I was going to travel by Spice Jet, they refused to carry the chair if it did not fold. Another time while I was flying Jet lite the budget airline owned by Jet Airways, they were most comfortable carrying my non-foldable 60kg electric wheelchair. The only thing they wanted to ensure was that my chair had dry batteries. It was easy and my chair reached the destination undamaged. I was impressed by the Jet Airways and defiantly know that Spice Jet and Indigo are not the best airlines for disabled travels.
Following the enactment of the Civil Aviation Requirement for Carriage of disabled people, the only two notable benefits that I can see is:
1. As a disabled person I can refuse to sign an indemnity form that frees the airlines from the same commitments it has towards a disabled person as it has for all other passengers and
2. My being able to carry my electric wheelchair easily on a budget airline even if it is on one airline.