Adjusting to the daily use of mobile scooters reshapes an individual’s life for the better, but with some minor adaptation inconveniences. The user has to make changes to their environment and their methods in navigating their surroundings, if such surroundings are not accessible for mobile scooters already. Changes include rearranging furniture, adding ramps to homes, attaching lifts to vehicles, mapping out a community outing that includes accessible features in public areas and transit, etc. The compensation can be time-consuming and expensive, but eventually the mobile scooter user acclimates to the demands. So, what about the few individuals who have to combine mobile scooters with airline travel? Read the following case study:
Samantha is a 64 year old female with multiple sclerosis. Up until recently, she was able to go on international business trips for her company using just a walker. On her good days, she would have the walker stowed away under the plane and then use a single point cane to maintain her balance while on the plane. She had to purchase a mobile scooter due to an increase in falls and fatigue, which is typical of progressive M.S. Now, she is planning her first overseas trip with the scooter and is very anxious about how to go about it according to airport policy.
For Samantha, transporting herself through the airport process in mobile scooters will be overwhelming at first since she is playing by a slightly different rule book. So what type of questions could she have as well as others who are in a similar situation?
My scooter is not going to fit through those aisles to get my tickets. What do I do?
If you are flying out of a U.S. airport, and your scooter is not a bariatric model, then it should fit just fine since airports are subject to ADA regulations (American Disabilities Act). The aisles can be easily modified since they are lined with the belt gates that can be moved around if needed. In the event that the lines are crowded, you could always access your tickets at the new kiosks which usually have a ton of open space available. If you have trouble using the kiosk, you can always ask an employee to walk you through accessing it step by step.
How do I get my scooter through security and what problems could I face?
The biggest concern for airport security when it comes to mobile scooters is the batteries operating the chair. Lithium batteries larger than 300 amps are not in compliance with ADA regulations in the United States and will not be allowed on the plane. On the bright side, not very many mobile scooters contain those type of batteries. To be on the safe side, replace them with non-spillable lead based batteries which will be allowed on the plane. https://www.mobilityscootersdirect.com/blog/general/traveling-with-a-mobility-scooter-or-power-wheelchair-on-an-airplane/
Will airport security take my scooter and shove it under the plane? Do I have a choice?
This really depends on whether or not you call the airport ahead of time regarding your reservation. If you give the airport 48 hour notice, they will be prepared to stow the scooter under the plane and provide you with an aircraft wheelchair. According to https://www.accessiblemadrid.com/en/blog/flying-mobility-scooter-or-wheelchair-useful-tips#, most flights allow for the space of one wheelchair on the aircraft provided by the airport. This always enough room for the chair to travel to and from the bathroom (some airlines will not allow attendants to assist wheelchair users in and out of the wheelchair to the toilet, so if this is a concern bring someone with you) https://www.ryanair.com/us/en/useful-info/help-centre/faq-overview/Special-assistance/Can-I-bring-my-own-electric-wheelchair-mobility-scooter.
Although the mobile scooter cannot go on the aircraft, you can still use your mobile scooter beyond the security point in order to get around the airport.
Am I going to get stalled at customs because I have a scooter?
You will only get stalled in any lines if you didn’t call the airport ahead of time and inform them about your scooter when you made ticket reservations. If you have any trouble with customer service, always asked to be transferred to a supervisor to discuss the transport of mobile scooters. According to ADA regulations, a mobile scooter is not considered extra baggage and therefore you should not be charged any extra fees for bringing it with you.
I have to make several connecting flights. Where will my scooter be?
If your connection flights are under several different airline companies, call each one separately to inquire about whether or not mobile scooters will be taken off of the plane between flights. It is typical for cargo to be unloaded between flights if you are switching airline companies and if you are connecting somewhere to fly out of the country. Each baggage item, including mobile scooters, needs to be inspected at customs points.
I’m traveling to other places outside of the United States? How will accessibility laws affect my ability to transport mobile scooters?
Take out your computer and start researching each country and airport that you will be visiting. The ADA rights card will not work in other countries, and if you are traveling in a country that has limited accessibility then that’s just something you will have to figure out on your own.
What happens if my scooter gets damaged while in the airport?
Before even getting onto the plane, consider taking out flight insurance that lists motor scooters as a covered item if damage is incurred. Additionally, take multiple pictures of your mobile scooter prior to your trip. In the event that damage does occur, you will have visual “before” and “after” proof. The more visual documentation you have, the stronger your claim that you can submit to the airport. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/disabilities/custwheelchair.aspx
I’ve got multiple bags that will be in my possession. How do I transport those and my scooter at the same time?
Airport employees have multiple ways to assist those with luggage and mobile scooters. As many travelers know, heavier luggage will be checked in and stowed under the plane which takes some of the burden off of you as far as carrying items around the airport. If you are having trouble managing your carry-on items while driving your scooter, employees can assist you by transporting items to your designated gate.