Do Airlines Charge for Electric Power Wheelchairs and Scooters?

Do Airlines Charge for Electric Power Wheelchairs and Scooters?

This is a question we are often asked.  Since it is so important, we thought we would research it and let you know what we found out.

 Every airline that we contacted will transport a pov (electric wheelchair and scooter) or a manual wheelchair at no additional charge when you purchase a ticket.  It is advisable to let the airline know ahead of time if you are planning to travel with an assistive device such as a wheelchair.  Below is more detailed information about each airline’s policies, copied directly from their websites.  Questions can be answered by calling the airline or by searching their website. 

 

AirTran 

Canes, walkers, crutches and other assistive devices capable of being collapsed small enough to fit in overhead compartment or underneath a seat are welcome inside the cabin and will not count toward your carry-on limit. 

Wheelchairs — AirTran Airways accepts and transports most wheelchairs, including folding, collapsible, non-folding manual, and electric/battery-powered wheelchairs, as well as electric-powered carts.

Each aircraft operated by AirTran Airways has room for one collapsible wheelchair onboard, and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, some wheelchairs can collapse to fit in the overhead bin or underneath a seat. Aircraft operated by SkyWest Airlines are smaller, and cannot accommodate onboard stowage of wheelchairs.

Non-collapsible and electric wheelchairs are accepted as checked baggage. You may check your wheelchair at the ticket counter or gate, and we will return it to you when your flight lands, either at the gate or baggage claim, as you specify.

For battery-powered wheelchairs and carts, we ask you to check in at the ticket counter at least one (1) hour prior to departure, so we can prepare the chair for loading. Some batteries are subject to dangerous goods handling. To help ensure the proper handling of your wheelchair and its components, we always appreciate written instructions and any special tools we may need that you wish to provide.

 

Alaska Airlines 

Wheelchairs and other assistive devices may be checked without charge.

 

American Airlines  

Wheelchair/scooters/ braces, or other assistive devices are accepted free of charge as checked baggage and are in addition to the normal checked baggage allowance.

 

Continental 

Continental Airlines accepts one wheelchair or other assistive device per customer in addition to the free baggage allowance at no additional charge. Continental accepts all types of wheelchairs including folding, collapsible, non-folding, unpowered or electric. Continental also accepts electric carts."

 

Delta 

We realize that medical supplies or equipment may be a necessity on your trip; therefore these items are allowed on board as additional items at no extra charge. Some medical items can be carried on the plane, along with the regular carry-on allowance, as long as they meet the standard size and weight limits. If the medical supplies or equipment are included in a larger bag that contains other non-essential items, that bag will not be considered a free item, and will be subject to normal baggage fees. Below are additional details for your reference.

 

Frontier Airlines

We accept all wheelchairs and mobility devices as checked baggage in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. These items are not counted as part of a passenger's baggage allowance and baggage fees do not apply. We have also designated priority space in the passenger cabin of all Airbus aircraft for stowage of one wheelchair or mobility device. Refer to wheelchair stowage onboard our aircraft for more information.

When making your reservation or prior to travel, please make a request for the wheelchair to be stowed onboard. In addition, please notify our customer service representative at the ticket counter at the time of check-in, and upon arrival at the gate area. We accommodate wheelchair stowage onboard on a first-come, first-served basis at the airport.

Other assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, crutches, etc. that can be stowed in compliance with the FAA safety regulations will be given priority onboard stowage, and will not be counted toward the carry-on baggage allowance.

 

Wheelchair Batteries

Federal regulations require spillable (wet cell) and non-spillable (dry cell) batteries to be disconnected from their device unless the mobility aid has an effective design to prevent unintentional activation. If the wheelchair is equipped with an electronic memory chip, disconnection may cause memory loss. Spillable batteries may need to be removed from the device and transported in a special battery box if the device cannot be loaded, secured, and unloaded in an upright position. Frontier will provide the battery box if necessary.

Jet Blue  

We transport all types of personal wheelchairs including folding, collapsible or non-folding manual wheelchairs, battery-powered wheelchairs and scooters, and other assistive devices. JetBlue will accept battery-powered wheelchairs (unless it is a folding model) and mobility aids as checked baggage only. Battery-powered wheelchair batteries are not permitted in the cabin.

JetBlue Airways accepts both spillable and non-spillable batteries in wheelchairs and mobility aids. However, respirators and ventilators are required to have non-spillable batteries only. Batteries used for assistive devices require labeling: the outer packaging must be plainly and durably marked “NONSPILLABLE” or “NONSPILLABLE BATTERY” or "SPILLABLE BATTERY" so that crewmembers can exercise proper handling procedures for the different battery types."

In addition to collapsible assistive devices which can safely fit in an overhead compartment or under a customer's seat, one folding, collapsible or break-down wheelchair per flight may be stowed onboard the cabin. This is determined on a first-come, first-served basis at time of check in.

Alternatively, JetBlue will accept such items as checked baggage at the ticket counter and/or gate. Checking and returning of personal wheelchairs at the gate area upon arrival can be arranged. Detachable items such as seat cushions and footrests may be carried onboard.

Southwest Air

 

Southwest will stow wheelchairs in the aircraft cabin as long as they can be stowed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety guidelines. Each aircraft is equipped with a specially designed wheelchair storage compartment to allow in-cabin stowage of at least one standard-size adult collapsible wheelchair. The wheelchair compartment is located in the rear of the aircraft and is available for Customers' use on a first-come, first-served basis.

If the wheelchair will not safely fit in an approved cabin bin or stowage area, we will transport it in the cargo compartment at no additional charge. However, we suggest that all removable parts (i.e., cushions, arm or leg rests, and side guards) be stowed in an overhead bin or under a seat if the parts fit and meet all FAA safety requirements for onboard stowage. The Customer has the option to retrieve the checked wheelchair at the gate or baggage claim upon arrival at his or her destination.

If you are traveling with a power wheelchair, in the event that we need to prepare your wheelchair for stowage, we may ask that you relinquish your power wheelchair up to an hour in advance of departure. In that case, you will be transferred to an airport wheelchair until boarding begins. Power wheelchairs and scooters will be securely stowed in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. Southwest recommends that all removable parts of the wheelchair be stowed in the overhead bins.

If your wheelchair/scooter is powered by a wet cell battery, the battery will be removed and placed in a protective battery box, as required by federal HAZMAT safety regulations. It would be most helpful for the Customer to label the battery cables with corresponding colored tape or provide detailed disconnection and reconnection directions so that the Agents at the destination city can quickly and easily reconnect the battery to the wheelchair. You may bring one "spare" wet cell battery for each battery needed to operate your wheelchair. Those batteries will also be packaged in a protective battery box.

If your wheelchair/scooter is powered by a nonspillable battery that is in good condition and can be stowed upright in the cargo bin of the aircraft, we will ensure the battery is secured and will not remove the battery. In order to prevent shorting and possible electrical fire, we must disconnect the battery either by using a quick disconnect mechanism, if present, or manually removing the cables from the battery. Again, if the Customer can provide disconnect directions or label the corresponding cables, our Agents can easily reconnect the battery and return the assistive device more quickly at the Customer's destination. We do not limit the number of "spare" nonspillable batteries a Customer may check in.

You may find it helpful to print our Wheelchair/Scooter Information Form and bring it with you to the airport when presenting your assistive device to our Employees. The Wheelchair/Scooter Information Form is not required, but completing the form will serve as a useful guide to the Employees who will be handling your assistive device.

 

Other Assistive Devices

Other assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, crutches, CPAP machines, etc., that can be stowed in compliance with FAA safety regulations, will be given priority onboard stowage, and will not be counted toward your one carryon plus one personal item limit. If the wheelchair compartment is not occupied by another Customer's wheelchair, other assistive devices may be stowed within it. While we recommend that a Customer carry on any assistive devices (including medications) that can be stowed safely in the cabin, these items can be checked if the Customer prefers. During the checkin process, it is important that the Customer inform a Customer Service Agent that an assistive device is being checked, especially if the assistive device is contained within the Customer's luggage.

If an assistive device cannot be stored safely in the cabin, we will transport it in the cargo compartment.

 

Spirit Airlines


Airbus A321, Airbus A320 & Airbus A319: These aircraft are equipped for onboard wheelchair stowage in accordance with the Department of Transportation, 14 CFR 328.65 regulations.

You can check your wheelchair at the ticket counter or the gate. We appreciate your checking powered equipment that may require disassembly at the ticket counter so we can arrange for proper handling. You may use Spirit's wheelchair equipment after checking your personal wheelchair. Since you know your wheelchairs best, please provide instructions on assembly and disassembly of the wheelchair, if necessary, to accommodate on the aircraft. If the wheelchair is electric, please identify specific battery type, so employees may establish correct federal "dangerous goods" handling procedures. Detachable items such as seat cushions and footrests can be carried onboard or checked with the wheelchair in the cargo compartment.


Batteries

Identify your wheelchair batteries as either spillable or non-spillable so that our employees may establish correct federal "dangerous goods" handling procedures. Wet-cell batteries are considered spillable, so we need to make special preparations to transport them by air. We have to disconnect the battery and protect the terminals against electrical shorting. We have to remove the battery if we cannot fit your wheelchair equipment upright through the aircraft cargo compartment door. The battery will be shipped in Spirit's battery box to meet all federal "dangerous goods" handling requirements. We cannot transport damaged or leaking batteries by air.

Dry cell and gel-cell batteries are considered non-spillable and fewer requirements are required for handling. We can leave powered wheelchair batteries attached when the equipment fits upright through the aircraft cargo compartment door. Spirit personnel will disconnect the battery post connectors and wrap each post connector with tape to prevent electrical shorts during shipping.

 

Onboard Wheelchair

All of our aircraft have an onboard wheelchair. These wheelchairs are especially designed to fit the aisle of our aircraft and may be used by our customers to move to and from the lavatory. While our flight attendants are trained in the operation of this wheelchair and will assist you with its use, they are not required to lift or carry you.

 

United airlines

Using United's wheelchair service
Every airport United serves has wheelchairs available, and virtually all of the cities we serve have jet bridges or special equipment to board customers who cannot climb stairs. Also, airports have narrow aisle wheelchairs for customers who require them to reach their seat in the airplane. Our reservations personnel can help you with information and order a wheelchair for points of departure, connection and destination. When you request a wheelchair, we need to know if you are able to walk without assistance and how far, and if you can ascend and descend stairs without assistance. You can request a wheelchair by calling
1-800-241-6522 and selecting the "reservations" option. 

United will check your personal wheelchair free of charge along with luggage. Battery-powered wheelchairs—with dry cell, wet cell, gel cell, or non-spillable electric storage batteries—are acceptable, but certain safety procedures must be followed in preparing the wheelchair for carriage. Reservations personnel will be happy to answer any specific questions.

If you use United's wheelchair service, we will provide an attendant at no charge to assist you in moving through the airport. This service is intended to assist passengers in moving to or from the gate area or the plane. Wheelchair attendants may provide assistance in getting passengers to an airport lavatory but cannot provide any assistance within the lavatory. If an attendant is not wanted, we will, where possible, provide you with a United wheelchair for independent use. You may be required to leave your driver's license as security until the wheelchair is returned.

Using your own wheelchair
We are happy to accommodate customers who prefer to use their own wheelchairs to and from the gate area. You may check your wheelchair at the gate and also request to use it between flights, during lengthy layovers. Where the connecting time between flights is short, you may prefer to use United's wheelchair service to expedite transportation to the connecting flight.

A collapsible wheelchair can be stored in the aircraft cabin. Please note cabin storage space is limited and does vary by aircraft type. So when you arrive at the gate be sure to tell the gate agent. The agent can advise you about stowage options for your flight and ensure that the proper tag is placed on your wheelchair. United's baggage personnel need the tag so they know to bring you the wheelchair to the arrival gate when you are departing the terminal, or to bring it within the terminal during layovers between flights. Although United employees will make every effort to deliver the wheelchair to the gate promptly, the facilities at the particular airport may slow this process and require some patience.

If you need extra time at the gate to board, you will usually have the opportunity to "pre-board" prior to others in order to be safely and comfortably seated. If you use your own wheelchair at the gate, you may wish to check in and board early so United personnel can prepare and load your wheelchair. 

Airport wheelchairs are in great demand during certain travel periods. Our airport personnel will appreciate your patience if you must wait a few minutes for a chair. If you have any questions, concerns or special requests, please contact a United Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) located at any United airport location.

 

US Airways

In addition to the normal baggage allowance and at no charge, US Airways will accept one wheelchair per passenger according to the following requirements and limitations: 

  • The wheelchair will be carried in the cargo compartment of the aircraft, if in-cabin storage space is not available.
  • All types of wheelchairs are accepted, collapsible or non collapsible, electric-powered with wet or dry cell batteries.
  • At the time of check-in, electric-powered wheelchairs must have cables disconnected and terminals protected against electrical shortages.
  • For wet cell battery powered wheelchairs
    • Passengers must provide US Airways 24 hours notice of intent to transport.
    • Passengers must check in at the departure gate at least 45 minutes prior to the scheduled flight departure time.
    • Battery must be disconnected and terminals protected against electrical shorting.
    • Battery must be contained in a leak proof box fastened securely to the wheelchair.
    • On flights utilizing DC9 aircraft (some US Airways flights operated by code share partners), wet cell battery-powered wheelchairs exceeding 31 inches/79 cm in vertical height cannot be accepted.
    • It may be necessary to remove the battery if the wheelchair cannot be loaded, stowed, and unloaded in an upright manner."

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Virgin America

If you have a qualified disability, and are dependent on a wheelchair, you are welcome to bring it on board and it won't count toward your carry-on allowance.

Let us know what your experience has been with air travel.   You can post it on our Blog, so we can all benefit from your experience or knowledge, or you can email us or call us toll free at 888-972-2300.

 

 

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