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FAQ

Can I bring my wheelchair on the plane?

Yes, you can travel with your wheelchair on flying an airplane. However, there are some important things to consider, including the size and type of wheelchair. There is limited space onboard larger airplanes for a single standard wheelchair or transport chair. Power wheelchair and rigid-frame wheelchairs will need to stored underneath - aka gate checked. Power chairs which use a sealed battery - lead acid or gel, which is most - will have no issues.

General Tips for Booking your Flight

  • Book an aisle seat toward the front the plane.

  • If you are travelling with a power wheelchair, make sure to have the make/model/type of battery available when calling the airline.

  • Book direct flights if possible. This avoids the hassle of boarding and exiting a plane twice.

  • Make sure to think about how you’ll transfer into the seat. Pack transfer straps or a transfer board.

  • Take a picture of your equipment in case any conflicts arise due to damage incurred while transporting.

Dealing with Batteries

For domestic US travel, non-spillable batteries are allowed onboard an airplane. All power mobility products - include power wheelchairs and mobility scooters - we sell use this sort of battery. They come in two types:

  • Sealed Lead Acid (AGM and Gel): Your power wheelchair is most likely to have this sort of battery. During transport, the battery may remain installed if it is securely attached to your mobility device. The battery housing provides protection from damage and the terminals are protected from short circuit. The battery cables may remain connected only if the device is protected from accidental activation. For additional information, visit: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=28.

  • Lithium-Ion: Less common are lithium-ion batteries. These batteries must be removed from the mobility device and carried in carry-on baggage only. The passenger must advise the plane’s crew of the battery location. For additional information: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=40.

International travel will require further research based on the country you’re travelling to and the airline you'll be travelling on.

What to Expect for your Flight

The day before your flight, call your airline and airports to verify your reservation, your accessibilities options, and any other concerns you may have. Check-in can be performed online, through an app, or at the airport. Most airlines recommend arriving at least 1-2 hours before your flight, but wheelchair users may wish to give themselves, even more, time before their flight to clear security, check their wheelchair or other equipment, and make their way around the airport.

At security, some airports will require you to check your power wheelchair or scooter prior to clearing security checkpoints. If this is the case, you will be given a terminal wheelchair - and likely an attendant - to guide through the airport. Be sure to remove your personal belongings, including bags and backpacks, from your equipment. Security will assist you through the procedure, so don't be afraid to ask questions or for help.

When you reach your gate, speak with the airline representation at the terminal about pre-boarding. Once pre-boarding begins and you make your way down to the plane, you will need to be transferred to an aisle-sized wheelchair. Passenger jets have a minimum aisle width of 15 inches. Before leaving your personal wheelchair, remove or protect any sensitive electronics, like a joystick for a power wheelchair, and remove any modifications likely to break in transport, like a headrest. If you have a power wheelchair, put it in free-wheel mode. Lastly, be sure to take your cushion with you and bring it on-board to use during your flight.

In-Flight Toileting Options

In flight, your bathroom options may be limited. Some airlines may be able to transport you to the bathroom via an aisle wheelchair. This is why it's important to book an aisle seat, if possible. Some wheelchair users have utilized catheters or adult incontinence products to avoid the issue to using the airplane bathroom during the flight.

For shorter flights, you may be able to avoid needing the facilities, especially if you use a handicap-accessible bathroom at the airport before boarding your flight and limit your fluid intake until you land. Travelling can include delays, dehydration can cause other issues. So, be careful if you're going to just skip the fluids. This is another good question for your airline ahead of booking, ask about in-flight accessibility options.

Arrival at your Destination

Once you arrive at your destination, you will be required to wait until the rest of the passengers have vacated the plane. With the assistance of the airline attendants, you will be escorted off the plane in their designated wheelchair. Generally, you can expect that your personal wheelchair will be returned to you at baggage claim.

Reminders and Additional Tips:

  • If you have a choice between a direct flight or connecting flights, consider opting for the direct flight. Even if it costs a little extra, it may be worth avoiding the hassle of exiting and boarding a plane twice. Plus, the wear of transfering your wheelchair from plane to plane.

  • Always call the airline prior to booking your flight to ask about their accessibility options and how they can accommodate your individual needs for boarding and exiting the plane as well as during the flight.

  • Contact the airports (both departing and arriving airports) to ask about security procedures for wheelchairs and other potential accessibility issues.

  • If your wheelchair or accessibility equipment is damaged during your flight, contact the U.S. Department of Transportation (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint) to file a complaint.

How Wide Does a Doorway Need to be for a Wheelchair?

 

Whether you are a wheelchair user yourself, or someone trying to make your business or home more accessible, knowing how wide a doorway needs to be is crucial.

A good rule of thumb for a standard wheelchair is about 27” wide. Standard interior doors are 28”, which makes for a tight fit. Exterior doors generally run 36” wide.

Depending on size and type, a wheelchair's width could range from 21” (for narrow transport chairs) to 40” wide (for heavy duty wheelchairs).

If you are purchasing a wheelchair, be sure to measure all the doorways, interior and exterior, and any tight corners before making your purchase. This may narrow down what type of wheelchair you can use indoors, especially in smaller or older homes. The size of every wheelchair should be included with the manufacturer's specifications.

Helpful Hints:

  • Consider the approach to the door: is there room to maneuver to head straight through?

  • Once you pass through the door, do you need to turn or maneuver immediately? How narrow is the turn?


  • Once you pass through the door, do you need to turn or maneuver immediately? How narrow is the turn?


  • Is there a threshold or lip, or any other sort of separation or break in the flooring? If so, consider a small ramp to ease your wheelchair over the barrier.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sets forth the following recommendations:

  • A door requires a minimum of 32” with a maximum of 48” which would accommodate most wheelchairs. (Hallways require 36”). 


  • The height of a door should be 80”.


  • Hardware, such as handles and locks should not be higher than 48” from the floor.

  • Thresholds higher than ½ inch require a ramp. 


Additional helpful wheelchair measurements:

 

How Much Does A Wheelchair Weigh?

 

Manual Wheelchairs typically weigh between 15 lbs. and 60lbs. Power Wheelchairs weigh between 50 lbs. and 250 lbs. The differences in weight are due to the motor (or lack of motor), materials used, and accessories.

Helpful hints:

  1. The lighter your wheelchair, the easier it is to propel yourself or to lift into a car.

  2. The industry often lists weights without leg-rests included (i.e. frame only).

 

Why is weight important?

All other things being equal, lighter wheelchairs are easier to push and maneuver. Also, they allow for relatively stress-free transportation.

Consider your lifestyle, how often you might transport your wheelchair, and who will have to lift it into a car’s trunk. If you or your caregiver are not particularly stronger, a lighter wheelchair might fit your needs perfectly.

Power Wheelchairs - 50lbs. - 250lbs.

  • Battery powered by an electric motor

  • 4 mph to 8 mph max speed

  • Driving range: 7 to 20+ miles

 

How To Assemble a Wheelchair - Out of the Box Assembly

All manual wheelchairs and transport wheelchairs come fully assembled. All you have to do is:

  • Take the wheelchair out of the box

  • Hook on the legrests, which attach without tools

  • You are ready to roll

Power wheelchairs may need some basic assembly, most Power wheelchairs are delivered in three parts

  • Base (including the wheels)

  • Seat

  • Batteries

If you are a little bit handy and have some strength, you should be able to drop in the batteries, connect the cables and place the seat on top of the wheelchair base.

 

How long is the warranty on my Hoveround power chair?

Porto Mobility warrants out power chairs to be free from defects in materials or workmanship for a period of one (2) years.* Porto Mobility warrants batteries to be free from defects in materials or workmanship for a period of 6 months.

Can I take my power chair outside?

Power chairs are designed for inside and outside use, however, please use caution when operating the power wheelchair outside.