Traveling With Your Own Wheelchair or Other Mobility Device
If you are a passenger with a disability and you will be traveling with your mobility device, here are a few suggestions to make your airport experience trouble-free and more enjoyable.
When making your airline reservations, advise your airline of the following information:
- Type of mobility device
- Please note that Segway mobility devices are not authorized to be stored on most carriers.
- Weight and size of mobility device
- Whether or not your mobility device will require assembly/disassembly
- Whether or not you are non-ambulatory, and will need an onboard wheelchair to reach your seat when boarding or deplaning the aircraft
- Whether or not you can ascend and descend stairs without assistance
- Whether or not you will be checking your mobility device at the ticket counter, or at the departure gate
When checking in for your flight on the day of departure, confirm all of the above information with an airline agent. Allow extra time when traveling with a battery-powered/electric wheelchair, cart, or scooter.
Attach instructions to your wheelchair if assembly/disassembly is needed
Although not required, it’s very helpful to airline staff if you attach a copy of assembly/disassembly instructions to your wheelchair (or other mobility device); and, if needed, bring specialized tools with you when traveling. (If you have questions regarding permitted carry-on tools, please contact the Transportation Security Administration at 1-866-289-9673.)
Identify battery type and know how to access it, if your mobility device is battery-powered:
- Please let the airline staff know your wheelchair’s (or other mobility device’s) specific battery type, and identify the battery as either spillable or non-spillable so that airline staff can adhere to federal “dangerous goods” handling procedures.
- Before arriving at the airport, it is best if you can educate yourself on how to gain access to the battery compartment and bring a specialized tool, if needed.
- Some mobility devices have batteries that can only be accessed by a technician. If this is the case, you may not be able to fly with your mobility device. Check with your air carrier to be sure.
If space is available, many airlines will allow folding wheelchairs to be stowed in the cabin on a first-ask, first-serve basis. If cabin storage is not available, airlines will typically allow you to check your wheelchair as baggage at either the ticket counter or the departure gate. Your airline will provide a wheelchair and wheelchair aid to assist you to your gate, if needed.
Advise your airline in advance if you wish to use your mobility device in your connecting city. They’ll let you know if you will have sufficient time in your connecting city. If not, the airline can provide you with their wheelchair service.
Aisle Width of Aircraft
The width of aisle space varies from aircraft to aircraft. Some aisle width spaces can be fairly narrow and difficult to navigate with an airline’s onboard wheelchair. Ask your airline about the aisle width before confirming reservations, if you are concerned about the wheelchair transfer process from the gate onto the aircraft.
Policies vary from airline to airline regarding mobility devices in general. To learn more about your airline’s procedures and requirements for mobility devices, please visit your airline’s website or call their reservation desk.