View Full Version : To check or not to check my manuel wheelchair?

03-26-2001, 04:08 PM
We're going to WDW for the first time this Oct. I'm debating if I should bring my manuel wheelchair and rent an EVC for the week while we're down there. I've never gone on vacation with a wheelchair before. I was hoping you guys could help me out.

First off, do you think I should bring my own wheelchair? How and where do you check your wheelchair at the airport? Is it safe to check your wheelchair? (My mom had heard horror stories of checking wheelchairs.)
:eek: :eek:

Second, I have NEVER driven an EVC before. Are they easy to drive? Does the seat swivel (I'm not sure how to get on and off them). How close to the rides do you park them. I can only walk short distances.

Any information you guys have would be great.


<font color=#cc3399>HAPPY EASTER

[This message was edited by sncbird on 03-28-01 at 10:22 AM.]

[This message was edited by sncbird on 03-31-01 at 10:13 AM.]

03-26-2001, 04:22 PM
I'm going to post some links to previous threads about ecvs... keep checking becasue I will add more as I go along.
I haven't done the ECV FAQ yet, so this will be a good start.. add info, guys!
ECV Use info request (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=183095892#110098003)

http://www.wdwinfo.com/sites/family/galc.gif DIS disABILITIES Discussion Board FAQ under construction! (http://www.wdwinfo.com/sites/teri4/DISindex.html)
"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."

03-26-2001, 04:29 PM
ECV questions - size (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=620099212#061094412)

ECV vs. wheelchair (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=11009269)

more about ECV use (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=103090451)

encouragement to use ECV (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=777094051)

ecv use and transport (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=854099561)

ECV and bus (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=950099841)

ECV and rides (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=700095621)

ECV on cruise (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=560090371)

ECV from parks (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=203091381)

more ECV raves (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=014093202)

ECVs onto launches and monorails (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=tpc&s=40009993&f=38009194&m=133094046)

[This message was edited by teri on 03-26-01 at 08:40 PM.]

03-28-2001, 06:23 AM
Thanks Teri these are great links!!!

Does anyone have any advice on checking wheelchairs at airports?

<font color=#cc3399>HAPPY EASTER

03-28-2001, 10:54 AM
I travel with a manual wheelchair. We try to be early and ask that it be put in the closet on board. If the plane is at its origin airport the first person to ask can usually put their wheelchair in the closet. The Air Access Act requires this and the wheelchair has priority over anything else in the cabin including attendants luggage. Some will give you a hard time about it. We actually had to get a letter from American Airlines detailing the law and their policy after 2 separate incidents. We haven't had to use it yet, thankfully. If you can't get the chair into the closet they will gatecheck it for you. You will board early and they will take you down to the door of the plane and transfer you to the airplane wheelchair or if you can walk you just go to your seat. They will bring the wheelchair back to the door of the plane upon landing. Which airline are you flying? anything else you want to know just fire away.


03-28-2001, 12:00 PM
Hi Tammy - Thanks for your input.

We are flying United. I do have a few more questions for you. I've never traveled with a wheelchair so I have alot of anxiety!! <IMG SRC="/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif" alt="confused">

What does gatecheck it mean? I think it means I can use it up to where the ticket counter is and they take it from there? Is that right? Also, do I need to call the airline ahead of time to request a wheelchair to get onto the plane with or do you just ask for one when you get there? Has your chair ever been damanged? I would hope they would take good care of our wheelchairs!!

<font color=#cc3399>HAPPY EASTER

03-28-2001, 03:36 PM
Gate check means you check it at the door of the aircraft and the airline takes it from there down to the baggage hold. We always tell the person who we make the reservation with to mark the tickets that we travel with a wheelchair. Let them know what your needs are. ie close to bathroom, bulkhead if needed for leg room and if you will need the aircraft aisle wheelchair. I can walk onto the aircraft with my cane so we just tell them we are bringing the wheelchair. Delta busted ours once and they offered a replacement while they were fixing it. Luckily I don't use mine everyday, yet. We did have it banged up on American but they just knocked a few things loose which were quickly fixed by us. This happened after they refused to put it in the closet and stowed it in the baggage hold. Thats how we got the letter in case we had problems the next time we flew American. All in all things have gone well for us traveling with the wheelchair. We have had our moments and you just have to smile and hold your ground especially if you know you are right like with the closet thing. We have only flown the United Shuttle between New York and Washington DC. Don't think we would do that again. They left us stranded on the tarmac at the foot of two flights of stairs even though we told them we had the wheelchair. They finally wheeled me off thru the baggage doors. But don't worry I'm sure things will be OK. If you are that worried, call the airline and get the number for their 'disability coordinator' and call them to see exactly how they want you to handle things. Hope that gives you some answers and it probably brought on a few more questions.


03-29-2001, 03:04 AM
On my first trip by plane tom WDW I did take my manual chair because I was not sure how available w/cs would be at the airport. I did have to gate check it. I did not know to inisist to have it on board, but at that time I was still able to slowly make my way down the aisle. I waited with a the families at the end of the flight waiting for their stollers to be brought up from the baggage at the plane door. Since then I have learned to let the airline know when you book what assistance you need. Some airlines have special numbers to call. Curb side chair, assistmance boarding, close to Lav, etc.Our last trip everything I requested was printed up and the check in staff at the airlines came over to me to make sure everything was okay, on both ways. So I stopped bring my manual chair. I do rent an ECV from an off site vendor to have once I get to the resort. Also, I borrowed a manual chair from bell services just to get in to check in and get my ECV. I have had good experiences leaving my manual chair at home, one less thing to worry about. But I think it is one of those situations that you may have to try out to see what works for you. I know that first trip I was very nervous about not having wheels if I felt I needed them, but I don't worry has much since I have had good experiences with AA.
I do not bring my power chair, just too nervous about it getting damaged.
ECVs are motorized and are not terribly difficult to drive. But I urge anyone to try one out first at your local Wal-mart, supermarket etc. Just to get the hand of it before you feel any presuure on vacation. Most ECV seats have levers that allow you to swivel to either side so it is easier to transfer out on to get closer to a table.
I did have one episode this last trip at HBND show. I was parked in a ECV spot which held two ECVs, not paying attention when wham! another ECV bumped into me. The lady was having trouble patking it and a CM was trying to direct her, but there was a language problem. I tried to tell her to swing wider but was not getting through. I pointed out another spot that was empty but the womans's family wanted her to park there. Finally a guest came over and showed the CM how to activate the free wheeling option to the ECV so it could be pushed not driven into place. It worked out fine, but I think you will feel better it you practice first. Enjoy, have a wonderful trip!

Nanajo DVC 8/98

Offsite 5/78
Contemp 11/85
BWV 3/99
OKW 11/99
BWV 3/01
OKW 11/01

03-31-2001, 06:17 AM
Thanks Tammy and Nanajo. All your input is so greatly appreciated!!! I booked our tickets on-line but, I'll call United to make sure I understand their procedures.

<font color=#cc3399>HAPPY EASTER

SueM in MN
04-01-2001, 08:01 AM
Looks like you got some really good info already, but we just got back so I'll add my 2 cents worth.
We've been real lucky and in many trips to WDW on a number of airlines, DD's wheelchair has had only minor damage once (a bent antitip bar). We have folded her wheelchair and taken it on the airplane closet a few times, but whether it will fit depends on the configuration of the plane. The last time we tried, the closet was tall enough, but not deep enough. We even tried popping off the wheels, but it just would not fit. The flight attendant was very unhelpful - she did not want "her" first class closet taken up by a wheelchair. The gate agent will usually be your friendly face. He/she doesn't care what goes into the closet.
If we are feeling especially paranoid, we will remove the wheelchair seating system and footrests and carry those on board with us. That way, all that is left is the frame which is less likely to get broken.
When you gate check the wheelchair, you can ride in it all the way onto the front part of the plane. We have already taken DD's right on the entrance part of the plane. Even if you have confirmed what help you need before, alert the gate agent once you get to your gate. Most airlines will automatically preboard you, but I have heard of situations where preboarding was not offered unless you ask for it. Sometimes the gatecheck tag has options of where to have your wheelchair delivered (gate or baggage claim at your final destination or at a connecting flight city). Make sure the correct choice is marked if there is a choice. If you might need an aisle chair, ask for it. We saw a woman last night who could not left her legs, so her DH was behind holding her up and was literally pushing her on the plane. Their life would have been much easier with an aisle chair. The airline is required to make one available.
I am the wheelchair wrangler and make sure whatever needs to be taken apart is taken apart. If you have a seat belt on your chair, make sure to fasten and tighten it. We saw someone once with their seatbelt wound around the axel because it wasn't fastened and got caught as the empty wheelchair was pushed.
Hopefully, you will be as lucky as we have been and not have any damage.

SueM in MN
Co-Moderator of disABILITIES (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=frm&s=40009993&f=38009194)