Checking In and Boarding

Checking In

You will need to check in early. There are two locations from which to surrender your wheelchair—the ticket counter or departure gate. In most cases you will want to remain in your power chair until you get to the departure gate to board the airplane. You will want to arrive at the departure gate at least one hour before departure.

Boarding the Airplane

As an individual with a disability, you will likely board first. Unfortunately, you will not be able to stay in your power chair during the flight. Instead, to get on the airplane you need to transfer from your wheelchair into a narrow aisle chair and then onto the plane seat. Corey Lee, a seasoned traveler with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, recommends three slings to transfer into an aisle chair are easyTravelseat, the Adapts portable transfer sling and the Perfect Lift sling. An alternative is The Eagle 2.

The Eagle 2 is a specialized patient lift produced by Haycomp Pty Ltd in Australia. At the airplane door you are put in a sling, lifted up out of your chair, wheeled into the airplane, and directly deposited into your seat. At no point do you need to transfer into the awful aisle chair. The Eagle 2 is available at these airports in the United States, although the Eagle 2 may get moved without Haycomp knowing:

  • Chicago, IL (ORD)
  • Dallas, TX (DFW)
  • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
  • Minneapolis, MN (MSP)
  • Orlando, FL (MCO)
  • Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
  • Austin, TX (AUS)
  • San Francisco, CA (SFO)
  • Sacramento, CA (SMF)
  • Honolulu, HI (HNL)

According to Haycomp, if you would like to book a transfer using the Eagle 2 you need to “contact your airline at the time of booking or contact the special assistance desk at the airport you are traveling from or to.” You will also need to book specific seats for the Eagle 2 to work. Specifically, on single aisle aircraft right-hand aisle; wide body aircraft (2 Aisles) middle seating and right-hand aisle; and on larger aircraft A380, 777, 787 middle seating and right-hand aisle.

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