View Full Version : Airlines, small planes and Electric Wheelchairs.
12-15-2007, 09:57 PM
Just wanted to let everyone know of a possible problem with airlines that are using the smaller CRJ type planes and taking an electric wheelchair. My daughters wheelchair is pretty hefty at around 250 pounds. It has an electric joystick and lots of cables.
We left on our trip on Dec 2nd to Dec 12, Delta airlines from Wichita to Atlanta. We unlocked the wheels to make it easy for the airline to load, however due to how tall it is they had issues getting it on the plane. Long story short, when unloading the chair the handlers broke off her mini joystick, tore the back off (it just slides off and is held on by metal fasteners) and had to carry the chair to us due to the handlers at Wichita locking the wheels. Despite repeated attempts at telling them how to unlock the wheels, they refused. We had a larger plane from Atlanta to Orlando.
One the way back, leg from Houston to Wichita, Continental airlines, we did our best to educate the airline on the wheelchair so we would not have the same issue again. This time the airline found it necessary to take the back off completely, using hex head tools so they really had to work at it. While doing this, they managed to cut a few of the wires completely.
Both airlines have agreed to pay for the damages they caused. Just wanted everyone to know there may be issues with the larger chairs and smaller planes!
12-16-2007, 12:13 PM
That is really, really unfortunate. Thanks for the heads up!
12-16-2007, 01:56 PM
Oh my goodness! Did you have to make repairs to use it in Disney? I would think that would cause a major problem! I'm sorry you went through all that and it is good to let people know so others can avoid a similar situation.
12-16-2007, 02:23 PM
We did, Delta was gracious enough that they gave us some of the epoxy they use on the planes to try and fix it temporarily, and they had a wheelchair guy come and look at it. He wasn't able to get the part before we left, but a couple of days after we got back he had sent it to us in the mail. Of course the epoxy held fairly well, but some rough treatment from a couple of bus drivers made the fragile hold fail. There were only 2 days that we ended up pushing her in the parks, it could have been much worse!
Here we go again...
12-18-2007, 06:53 AM
I ended up flying to DW with a lady and her DD from New Orleans to Orlando (and home on the same flight believe it or not). We sat next to each other both ways and spent a lot of time talking. She told me that on her last trip the speed knob was broken off her scooter and this was a new one. On the way back home, they were lifting it to put it in the plane and dropped it. Since I did not see her after we landed, I do not know how bad it was... but we both saw them drop it out the window.
I guess I will stick to rentals.
12-18-2007, 11:03 AM
WOW, that is scary. If they don't know how to handle the chair they should ask for your help!! After all we are the experts. I am so sorry for your inconvienence. I am glad you had a good trip though. Mickey has a tendency to make everything okay :mickey:
12-18-2007, 09:12 PM
Not knowing how to handle the chair isn't the only thing going against them, the area they try to cram these things into is so small. The door to the area is maybe 3 feet tall. A 4 foot electric chair is definitely an issue. So you've got small doors, tiny areas for them to go into and untrained employees that, unfortunately won't listen either. Three strikes right there.
There was not one problem with the larger planes. The 737's we went on (2) had no issues no breakages and the chair was whole when we got it. Unfortunately the airports around us have went to the smaller CRJ and Embraer planes.
We've decided that for any further air travel we are going to have instructions for locking and unlocking the wheels, reclining and setting straight up the seat, and warnings about the removing the back. We'll laminate the thing and chain it to the chair. Then when we hand it off to the crew, here's the instructions and warnings, please be careful. About all a person can do I think.
12-18-2007, 09:25 PM
I feel bad for the woman whose chair was dropped. That must have been an interesting flight knowing there was going to be something wrong yet not knowing how bad or what it may be.
On an interesting note, the guy that was sent out to look at the wheelchair said there was a woman whose chair he worked on just before ours, it was her third year in a row he had to fix her chair. Accidents happen, but you'd think they would be more prone to try to prevent them.
Got our damage estimate today, Delta will be replacing the mini joystick at $1700, and Continental will be buying a new switch ($600), replacing the back bars that they somehow stripped (unknown amount, but a few hundred dollars I'd imagine). Plus whatever labor is. Way over our $200 per person airfare. I'd think that alone would be incentive to do some preventative training.
12-23-2007, 10:03 PM
Unfortunately, these things happen "lots". Our first trip with a rented ECV from here in Mesa, resulted in a broken seat. It wasn't an expensive repair - in fact - the collar that makes the seat not wobble, was less than $10, but it make it useless for the ride back through the airport. That's when we decided to buy our own. DH talks to the loaders, and we've not had problems the last three trips.
Just a little side story. My ECV kept shorting out in Epcot, (before we started carrying basic tools), so DH asked Disney to "stow" my scooter so we didn't have to miss the fun, and went to rent me a WC. Well, not only did they give us a chair free, but they fixed my scooter while we were gone. How's that for "magic"?:mickey:
12-25-2007, 08:04 AM
I am surprised that the airlines do not know how to handle wheelchairs.:confused: I hope everything worked out well for you and you enjoyed your vacation.:mickey:
12-25-2007, 05:15 PM
Now that's Disney Magic!! Now if only we could expand that to the airlines.....
We did enjoy ourselves. So much so that I got the green light to plan our next trip in 2009. Before it was..."Don't you want to go somewhere else?"
PETE FROM NYC
12-26-2007, 06:32 PM
DW has her own ECV(scooter).
Before our trip last March,I started calling the airlines a year ahead,just to find out what to do,who handled what and a whole load of other related questions.
We got the best answers from Jet Blue.DW cannot walk the terminals,and no airline could guarantee her a wide wheelchair to use .With Jet Blue,she was able to ride her scooter right up to the gate,and be among the first people to board.On arrival,it was waiting for her at the gate .
Jet Blue gets my vote for travelling with an ECV.Now if they could only be on time,but that is another story.
Since that trip.I have had a lift installed in my vehicle,and thinking about driving down next year.
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