Booking a Flight
Although you will need special arrangements for your manual or power wheelchair, you book your ticket just as if you did not require any assistance. If you’re booking your flight directly with the airline, you may be able to indicate that you need special assistance or special service as you order your ticket. If booking the reservation allows you to select a seat, choose an aisle seat to make transferring into the airplane seat easier for the person in the wheelchair. I would recommend direct flights if at all possible because it could sometimes take a long time to get your wheelchair back. Many travel sites for persons with disabilities recommend at least 90 minutes between connecting flights.
After you purchase the ticket, even if you are able to indicate the need for special assistance, you will want to contact the airline directly to communicate any special assistance that you will need at the airport. Wheelchairtravel.org maintains a list of most airlines contact numbers for special assistance.
Before you call the airline, though, you need to familiarize yourself with special service request (SSR) codes. These are the codes that are added to your ticket record in order to keep track of your request and to make sure the appropriate staff are available for assistance. You can access a table of wheelchair specific and other disability related SSR codes here.
To have a smooth flight experience with a wheelchair, keep in mind that the most important thing you can do is to provide plenty of advance notice to the airline.
Thank you to the author of this webpage, Jacob Gapko. Jacob is 45 years old with Duchenne. He uses a power wheelchair and non-invasive ventilation 24/7. He has a BS, an MLIS, and is a specialist. Jacob has an incredible passion for helping our DMD community. He can be reached at Jacob.Gapko@FamilyFriendsAndDuchenne.org