Even able-bodied people have a challenging time getting around large, complex airports like Hartsfield-Jackson International. According to the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act, free wheelchair service has to be provided to anyone who asks for it and they don’t have to provide any proof that they need it.
Getting from the curb at the airport to your flight gate can be challenging if you have mobility problems. The majority of airlines hire contractors to offer travelers wheelchair service to get around the airport and also includes going through security. Electric carts are available at larger airports for those who have a difficult time walking long distances or need to get to their gate quickly.
What is the best way to get a wheelchair or electric cart when you get to the airport? Once you book your flight, contact your airline and have them get a wheelchair ready for your travel date.
When you do this it will be added to your passenger record and will be ready at the airport on your travel day. There are 4 designations that airlines use for the kind of wheelchair/cart that is required:
- The passenger is able to walk onto the plane, but needs help getting to the plane from the terminal.
- The passenger is unable to use stairs, however, can walk on the plane. They also need help getting from the plane to the terminal via wheelchair.
- The passenger has a disability that affects their lower limbs, but is independent, but they need help getting on and off the place.
- The passenger is fully immobile and will require assistance from the time they arrive at the airport until they get onto the plane.
You should make your request for a wheelchair a minimum of 48 hours prior to travel. If you forget to book in advance you might still be able to get a wheelchair from a skycap when you get to the curb. Once you check in you can also arrange for a wheelchair or cart to be available when you get to your transfer point or final destination. There are special wheelchairs that airlines use for boarding the plane.
You are advised to be at the airport a minimum of 2 hours before departure and be at your gate at least 1 hour before departure. If you have your own electric wheelchair or scooter, you need to have it checked in and be at your gate at least 45 minutes before departure. If your wheelchair is not electric or battery powered you also have to get it checked in be at your gate at least 30 minutes before departure.
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