Airport Wheelchair

For many wheelchair users, the idea of air travel can cause a sense of dread and anxiety, with passengers with reduced mobility (PRM)’s poor experiences in airports regularly making headlines. Aiming to make the flying experience easier, Drive DeVilbiss has released a video with simple tips for wheelchair users planning to travel by plane.

Despite great strides having been made in the accessibility of car, bus, train, and boat travel for those with mobility needs, air travel can still prove a daunting and stressful prospect for disabled travellers – particularly for those with powerchairs which must be stored in the hold.

Regularly, stories of wheelchairs and powerchairs being damaged in a plane’s hold or mishandled by cabin crews make headlines, alongside reports of lost mobility devices, inappropriate transfers, long waits, and uncomfortable seating arrangements.

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In April 2018, BBC journalist Frank Gardner drew attention to the problems facing disabled travellers after he was forced to wait two hours in his seat after landing whilst ground staff attempted to locate his lost wheelchair in Heathrow Airport. In November 2018, the BBC reported that disabled passenger Antony Taylor collapsed at Heathrow Airport after waiting for a booked wheelchair that failed to turn up, whilst in March 2019, 29-year-old Jessica Stafford, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, was told the special assistance service she had booked at Manchester Airport was unavailable due to staff shortages before being asked to walk to collect her wheelchair.

Drive’s video provides eight steps for wheelchair users to aim to reduce these situations, including contacting airlines ahead of time with details of requirements, what to expect in regards to airport security and the benefits of taking out insurance.

To help ensure wheelchairs are handled correctly by ground crew, Drive DeVilbiss’ video suggests users should pass on detailed instructions regarding how to store and move their device, as well as removing and labelling all detachable wheelchair parts before the chair is stored.

With more people with disabilities travelling each year, some airports have invested in new technology to help provide a smoother experience for passengers with reduced mobility, Recently, Edinburgh Airport began trialling a new mobile food and beverage ordering service for passengers with reduced mobility, as well as purchasing a number of wheelAIR’s cooling wheelchair cushions.

The video may prove a useful, informative resource for retailers keen to share practical advice with customers ahead of the busy summer holiday season.

See the video below:

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