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Old 04-02-2014, 10:35 AM   #1
Earning My Ears
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Denver, CO
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Air Travel with Scooter

My husband and I have traveled to Disney last year and this year we did a cruise with DCL. Both times we rented him a scooter. He doesn't have one at home because honestly he just doesn't leave the house much. We are thinking about getting a scooter for home use so he could maybe go to the art museum or zoo with us sometime this summer.

My question: If we were to buy a scooter for use at home, how easy is it to travel with? Ideally, if we buy one, we would then prefer to also use it on vacation in lieu of paying the rental fees. It would also help with getting around the airport and to/from our car in the parking lot of the airport.

He used a Pride Victory 10 on the cruise ship and LOVED it (he found it comfortable, easy to turn, and it held the charge well)... anyone travel with that particular scooter? It seems big, so I am not sure how it would work. I read on Frontier Airlines website that we could "check" the scooter, but does that mean he can't use it to get to the gate (wheelchair help is ok, but he would prefer not to have someone push him through the airport since he feels like they are judging him since he doesn't appear to "need it") or could we gate check it once we get him to the gate?

I wasn't sure who to ask, but I figured this group has been a great resource for us in the past and I was sure some of you travel with your medical equipment and may have some "words of wisdom" for us.

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Old 04-02-2014, 11:43 AM   #2
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You would need to check with the specific airline for details, but here's how it would go in general:

You will want to get to the airport extra early to allow extra time for check in and security. When you check your bags, someone will also visually inspect the scooter and attach a tag noting any existing damage. If you have a layover, they should ask him if he will need the chair then, if not, bring it up yourself. They may offer to provide a manual wheelchair or take him in one of those golf cart things, but personally I prefer to have my scooter at layover, so I know it is making the transfer with me. Most often, any time they offer a manual chair, they will insist on having one of their people push it for liability reasons. I tip a couple of dollars in that case.

At security, they may ask him if he can walk through the metal detector, but if not that's not a problem. They will wipe down the scooter with those explosive detecting wipes, and pat him down. A nuisance, but not too bad. If you have a bag that contains nothing but medical supplies (which includes the charger and stuff for the scooter), announce this. This bag does not count towards your carry-on limit.

Usually he will be able to use his scooter right up to the door to the plane. They may ask for it earlier than that, but they will provide a manual chair if so. Whenever they take your scooter, remove anything that come off easily, such as the basket, extra cushions, etc. I have a tote bag I use for those plus the charger. This bag and the scooter itself do not count towards any baggage limits. If he can't walk to his seat, they have a special chair narrow enough to fit in the aisle. The scooter will be taken from the gate to the baggage area. You may want to attach a sheet of paper saying what are the best areas to use in lifting the scooter, it should be in your owners manual. (Some airlines have a form they want you to fill out in advance.)

You will be the first ones on and likely the last ones off, just like on the Disney buses. They will let you know when the scooter has arrived at the door to the plane and assist with the aisle chair if necessary. Above all, relax. Thousands of people fly everyday with scooters, and wheelchairs. The airline have procedures all worked out on how to get you to your destination efficiently and safely.

If he can climb the steep steps on the ME bus, he can take any bus, and they will put the scooter in the under bus storage. Otherwise, notify ME in advance and when you check in. If they don't have a lift bus there when you arrive, they will send for one. This is one of the lifts you back onto, that lifts you and scooter to the seating level. I've seen them, but never used one, so I can't tell you too much about that.

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Last edited by pbrim; 04-02-2014 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:26 PM   #3
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When you check-in at the airport. Tell them that you want to gate check the scooter. That's the term for when you use it up to the plane door. Within the US, they have to allow you to gate check. That's not necessarily true in other countries. Airlines like it when you give 48 hour notice, but in the US that's not required. I know Southwest now lets you put in a note of what mobility aids or needs you have when you book online. I think JetBlue does the same. I'm not sure what the procedure is with other airlines. When I can't make the note without a phone call, I tend to just not inform the airline early (I use a manual wheelchair). The scooter does not count towards your checked luggage. Any bag that only contains things you've taken off the scooter before it goes into the hold does not count towards your carry-ons.

With a scooter specifically (compared to a manual wheelchair), you're going to want to just remember what type of batteries you have (dry-cell, wet cell, etc.). Some have to be disconnected or removed before the scooter is loaded into the hold and some don't (the Victory 10 should have the type that require the least fuss). For airlines that let you note mobility needs during booking, they generally ask about type of batteries as part of that note.

I always allow loads of time to get through the airport and for layovers. TSA will swab down the scooter to test for explosives, but if you can walk, you should be able to walk through the scanner. My one note there is that not all airports have seats near TSA and you may not be allowed to touch the scooter until it's been cleared. I generally aim to get to a smaller airport at least 90 minutes in advance and larger airports at least 2 hours. For domestic layovers I allow minimum an hour between flights, even at small airports. Depending on airline and time of day, pre-boarding can be as much as 40 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:21 PM   #4
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Thank you!

Thank you both for the detailed responses. I am sure others will find all that information useful as well.

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Old 04-02-2014, 11:26 PM   #5
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You should expect to wait for a while (5 minutes) after deplaning for the scooter to come up from the hold.

ALWAYS take pictures when you leave your scooter with the airline- it will help in any necessary damage claim.

Do make sure you plan accordingly for your home airport- it can be a lot easier to drop someone with the scooter at the terminal and then have the other person go park the car.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:49 PM   #6
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Honestly, If you know you are going to travel with it on your flight, it does help if the airline knows ahead of time as they can prepare for it space wise and esp WEIGHTWISE in the Cargo Hold. Some of them can be quite heavy. And they do get priority for travel if they have to bump items in the event of too much weight.

I have found FOR ME as a Solo traveler (with the exception of having to the use rest room at the airport) it is MUCH easier for me to travel through the airport using my ECV than NOT using my ECV! Even factoring in the security screening. GO FIGURE!! At the airports I have traveled to, you should not queue up in the regular lines if you are on an ECV...you should go to a special HC lane. I would suggest inquiring about that at your home airport. If flying to MCO, When you depart MCO, Go to the HC lane there.

And I agree with the previous poster about gate checking...I have ALWAYS Gate Checked my ECV. They will have you board the plane as one of the very first passengers so that they can have as much time as possible to prepare and load your equipment. But I don't necessarily agree with being the last of the plane. MY experience is I'm not the first (but I am usually one of the first 15 or so off of the plane), but I have never been the last. I am usually somewhere in the middle. I need to stand up and stretch by the time I reach my destination so I am standing out on the jetway (or whatever it is called) and they are bringing up strollers and then my ECV. There are definitely people deplaning behind me.
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Old 04-14-2014, 04:30 PM   #7
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I have found that it can take considerably longer than 5 minutes for a heavier scooter or power chair to arrive at your gate because of the locations of the elevators that must be used. It depends on the distance between the gate and the elevator in both MCO (Orlando) and TPA (Tampa). There have been times when I had to ask a flight attendant or gate agent to check on it.
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Old 04-14-2014, 05:00 PM   #8
Earning My Ears
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Thanks all!

I really appreciate all the input. We brought his new scooter home yesterday (a Pride Victory 9). It is so exciting... It is like a new world is opening for us. He will get to use it at the local aquarium next Sunday.

Plus, we can't wait to take it on vacation with us in November. No more being pushed through the airport in a wheelchair, which he never liked.

I have shared all of your input with him. We feel much more prepared knowing what to expect when we travel.
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airline, disability, ecv, scooter, travel

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