Processes leading up to air travel can be stressful for most people, and for people who use wheelchairs, it sometimes is twice the frustration. With about 75 million people worldwide needing wheelchairs daily, the use of wheelchairs is certainly not uncommon. However, from inside the airport to boarding the plane, there can be many more stressful experiences than you bargained for. Are you familiar with this scenario? It’s time to make your travel experiences more relaxing with these tips.
- Communicate your mobility needs in advance
Communicating your needs in advance is important; it determines how you will be treated during your time at the airport. When notified early, airlines can reserve a wheelchair for you and can ensure that you are assisted upon departure and arrival.
You may also be required to take specific steps in making your trip relaxing. For example, you could ask them to allow you to remain in your personal wheelchair until the departure gate. Once you get there, they will have to switch you into a relatively narrow aisle chair.
Also, ensure you find out if your destination hotel is wheelchair friendly. If you are off to Asia, try out condo rental Singapore options. Be sure to contact your accommodation in advance to have your mobility needs met and prevent you from being stressed, as failing to communicate this makes them unable to prepare.
- Stay healthy and remain entertained
Carry antibacterial wipes and alcohol-based sanitizers with you. You may even have to politely ask a flight attendant to re-sanitize your seat before using it.
While on your flight, listen to music, watch movies, or read a book. These activities keep you productive and entertained during the flight until you land. If you need to sleep, request a blanket or pillow from the flight attendant to keep you comfortable and cosy.
- Be aware of the path to the nearest bathrooms during the flight
Several domestic flights have single-aisle planes, making access to the bathrooms quite challenging. The constricting space makes it almost impossible for you to move through without help. It is why you should always enquire before boarding if the airplane has a wheelchair on-board. An attendant may help you get to the bathroom effortlessly, however, it would be better to use the bathrooms at the airport before boarding the plane.
Try to avoid gassy foods and fizzy drinks during the few hours or day leading to your flight. If you use a power wheelchair, remember that it will be loaded as cargo on the plane. You will not have access to it until you arrive at your destination.
- Take steps to be comfortable during the flight
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is mainly a significant concern for wheelchair users. Prolonged inactivity (especially on the plane) could be a catalyst for developing this condition. Medics recommend that wheelchair users use support stockings purchased from a chemist or travel socks. Make sure they measure your ankles and calves to determine the right size for you.
Stay hydrated with water, but also limit your fluid intake. During a long flight, stretch your legs at regular intervals while you remain seated. If you have carry-on luggage, use that as a footstool to elevate your lower body. Remember that the feet swell at a lower pressure when on a plane. Try as much as possible to stretch your back by turning from side to side. It would help if you used a cushion to take the pressure off.
- Utilize extra minutes when the plane lands
Usually, to ensure safety aboard the plane, people with mobility aids (wheelchairs, crutches) are last to exit the plane upon arrival. The process of having the other passengers exit takes about thirty minutes or more. During this period, you can visit the bathroom if that’s a necessity – since it would be a little easier to do so, and ensure you packed your belongings like your phone, headphones, etc. You can use your spare minutes to freshen up and make a few calls.
For wheelchair users, moving through crowded airports, joining long winding queues, and sitting for long hours on a plane can be exhausting. However, there are ways to mitigate that. A few have been addressed here, but you can take more simple measures to make your flight relaxing. When you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly.