Flying with a Disability: How Can American Airlines Support You?
Whether you have a disability or it is a loved one, air travel is now perfectly managed to accommodate all passengers.
Heavier or lighter handicap, physical or psychological handicap, precise classifications exist and specific services have been put in place by the airline of the United States for the most comfortable possible trip, whatever its destination.
A specific air classification to better support you
American Airlines and air transport professionals wanted to set up a classification to better support people with motor disabilities. Thus, we will speak of Wheelchair Ramp (WCHR) in a situation where the passenger can walk a short distance or even climb stairs, Wheel Chair Stair (WCHS) if the passenger can only walk short distances and finally Wheelchair Cabin (WCHC) for a passenger unable to market. Each time, a wheelchair or adapted transport (such as electric carts) will be offered.
Regarding other disabilities, here again, the airline classification makes it possible to offer the appropriate service each time, as for deaf or hearing-impaired travelers who will have an accompanying person from the airline or blind travelers, who will have the right to travel and to travel with their guide dog.
The key is to inform American Airlines early enough to be able to benefit from these services under the best possible conditions: 48 hours before departure for example. Call an American Airlines Agent to advise them of your onboard needs.
Is your wheelchair a specific piece of luggage?
Your wheelchair can be installed either in the rear compartment of the cockpit or in the luggage compartment. All you need to do is contact your operator 48 hours in advance, and check in at the airport.
The American company has developed well-known services to support people with disabilities or reduced mobility, around a special program. They recommend, to ensure the best support, to inform them 48 hours in advance but also to register early enough, for better care of the person and the wheelchair in particular. This measure is all the more important for long-haul trips, such as a flight from New York to Paris, for example.
Your request for a special assistance service can indeed be made online. On the reservation form, select Special Assistance Required then choose the service you need before confirming your reservation.
This assistance request can also be made when booking your plane ticket to any destination.
When boarding, you will have priority while you exit last when disembarking. On board, assistance will allow you to make yourself comfortable and provide you with equivalent service, but you should know that this assistance will not be able to help you in the toilets for example: a personal attendant may then be necessary, especially for people, quadriplegics.
When making your connections, the accompanying person allows you to go to the next boarding gate as a priority and therefore to continue your trip without stress, if you are going to distant destinations such as on a flight from Washington to London.
Are there any special precautions to take, additional equipment to take?
It is necessary to put on compression stockings because of the risk of phlebitis with the pressure. This is valid for everyone and even more when you do not move your legs.
You should also plan to go to the bathroom before the flight if it is a short trip. If the journey is long, it is better to provide urinary protection: the toilets are very narrow in the plane!
How does it work in practice once you arrive at the airport?
We have priority for baggage check-in when in a wheelchair. The luggage goes in the hold and we keep the manual wheelchair until the plane. A label similar to that affixed to the luggage is stuck on the chair.
At the airport, the reduced mobility service helps you and if necessary lends you a wheelchair to get around, because an airport is big! After checking your baggage, staff take you to the departure lounge. There, you have to wait a bit before they pick you up, because you get on board first and unfortunately you get out last.
If there are stairs to enter the plane, a platform that goes up allows direct entry. Once on board, the staff take the manual chair back and place us on a very narrow chair that passes between the rows. This chair remains in the plane. We use it again on arrival.
Upon exiting the plane, we then retrieve the wheelchair. Again, if there are stairs, staffs uses the platform, someone then accompanies the passenger to collect the luggage.
When a passenger with a disability boards an aircraft, assistance will be provided by American Airlines. This assistance usually comes in the form of manual equipment or a wheelchair lift. When traveling by plane to get away from home or when traveling for business purposes, you need to know what assistance you will receive during the trip. You should make sure that the person accompanying you on your flight has the same support you will receive.
A Disability Support System is designed to provide the necessary assistance to people with various disabilities so that they do not experience any difficulty in their daily activities. When a person boards an airplane, they need special assistance in carrying out daily activities such as using the bathroom, sitting down or going to the toilet. In addition to helping disabled passengers use the bathroom and other facilities, these systems also provide them with assistance in sitting in their seats. Depending on the nature of their disability, some people may need assistance in sitting in the seat that can accommodate a wheelchair or scooter.
The Disability Support System helps people of all ages with various types of disabilities. These include physical, sensory and mental disabilities. It is important that the system has people with similar backgrounds in order to provide the best possible assistance. The personnel provided by the air carrier must be trained to handle all kinds of emergencies. These emergencies can include someone falling ill or having an accident, people notifying the company of their disability, or a medical emergency that needs to be taken care of immediately.
For people who need assistance, airlines should also be able to provide the appropriate amenities that will help them travel comfortably. For example, wheelchair lifts can be used on the airplane to move between different seats on an airplane. Likewise, they must have equipment to transfer a person from their wheelchair to a seat that can accommodate a scooter, as well as equipment that can be used to move a person out of a wheelchair to a normal seat.