The Anxiety of Flying in a Wheelchair

The Anxiety of Flying in a Wheelchair…Oy Vey

This Saturday will be the first time I’ve flown in over eight years. It’s hard to imagine that regrettable crazy four-day trip I took with a man much older to Vegas was so long ago, but thank God it’s been that long (#BadDecisions).

But let’s not go into that right now. I need to talk about a much more pressing issue other than regrets of my past. I want to talk about flying when you use a wheelchair. My friends this is a very stressful endeavor. Your wheelchair has a 50/50 chance of arriving in perfect shape. The risk involved of checking your wheelchair is a gamble that is almost as bad as going to Vegas, with a much older man.

The last time I flew was with Sun Country and it was one of the worst experiences of my life when it came to how they handled my wheelchair. When we flew back home, they brought my wheelchair to me at the gate per the normal rules, but they brought it to me completely disassembled. My custom backrest had somehow been removed, which was not removable in the first place, and was sitting on the seat. Panic town commence.

I’m assuming they thought I would put it back on when they gave me back my wheelchair. Unfortunately, this was impossible and required repair the next day. Another time when I flew to San Diego my shower chair was damaged too. Upon arriving at our destination, we realized when unfolding my shower chair that the frame was bent pretty badly. Improper, lazy handling once again causing happy-happy fun time.

Afterwards, I had to call a local medical supply company to come to my hotel and repair my shower chair. Talk about a headache when you’re trying to enjoy your first day in San Diego (we did have fun though). The airlines in both of these instances did reimburse me, but that doesn’t erase the stress of having a broken wheelchair or shower chair whilst traveling. It’s like broken legs.

In an ideal world, I would much rather take the bus or train, but as time constraints are always an issue in our modern day lives, I now must trust once again that riding in a metal cylinder 35,000 feet in the sky I will arrive to my destination safely. I do have a new plan of action this time around to prevent my wheelchair from becoming handled improperly – crazy signage duct taped all over my wheelchair. Oh yes.

The signs are going to read, “You’re handling a $30,000 piece of equipment that a quadriplegic is reliant upon for her daily life. PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE.” I’m going to make about 15 copies and tape them all over the wheelchair. Let’s hope, fingers-crossed, this works. If it doesn’t, oh Lordy….I likely won’t be flying again for a another eight years.

Has your wheelchair been damaged while flying? What did you do to make sure you were reimbursed?

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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