Travel Tips for Amputees Part 3: At the Gate and In the Air

Now that you’ve made it through security, you are at the gate and ready for your flight. A lot of the hassle is behind you, but there are still a couple of things left to keep in mind.

Boarding The Aircraft

If you use a wheelchair for support, you can use your own chair to get to the gate. You won’t, however, be able to take it on board with you. It has to be gate checked, but airlines have transfer chairs that fit down the aisle if you need it to board the plane. The same would apply for a rollator or walker.

If you use crutches, or a cane you may use those devices to board and store them in the overhead bin. Crutches and canes do not have to be gate checked like wheelchairs or other large assistive devices.

We all need a little extra time to get settled, so wheelchair or not, take advantage of the pre-boarding call for people needing extra time and assistance. If gate agents push back because they can’t visibly observe a disability, they aren’t actually allowed to ask you to prove it.  If you are comfortable with saying so, politely let them know you wear a prosthesis and need some extra time.

On Board and In Flight

Some people choose to remove their prosthesis for the flight. You could do this for the entire flight and store your prosthesis in overhead storage, or just remove it between the initial ascent and before the final descent. The cabin pressure and general climate of an aircraft may affect the volume of your residual limb. Wear your shrinker every now and then if you do remove your prosthesis. This will ensure that your residual limb will remain relative in size and minimize issues when you put your prosthesis back on.

If you need assistance while in flight, the crew is there to help you. If you’ve stowed your leg and aren’t able to retrieve it on your own, the crew will be able to assist you with that.  Just keep in mind there are times during the flight that this may mean waiting until the crew is available.

Keep moving, especially on longer flights

If your flight is longer than a couple of hours, it’s important to get up an moving from time to time.  This will help keep your circulation going and avoid complications such as blood clots or excess swelling. A quick walk to the lavatory and back a handful of times should do the trick. Just be sure to comply with seatbelt signs and try to avoid food and beverage service when you take your walk.

Leaving the Aircraft

If you used a transfer chair to board the aircraft, you’ll be waiting a while other passengers to clear the cabin. You’ll have to be a bit patient with this process. Transferring you off the aircraft isn’t going to work when other passengers are scrambling to get their carry-on and head up the ramp. Your own wheelchair will be waiting for you on the ramp when you leave the aircraft.

Now that you’re at your destination, it’s time to head for ground transportation and continue your adventure! Stay tuned, another post is coming to talk about the Amputee Road Warrior and hotel stays while travelling abroad.

Hope you enjoyed our third installment of Travel Tips for Amputees

If you’ve missed our Travel Tips for Amputees 1 & 2 see links below.
Going Somewhere? Travel Tips for Amputees Part 1: Before the Trip
Going Somewhere? Travel Tips for Amputees Part 2: The TSA

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