Many people have come to rely on the freedom and mobility that a power scooter offers them. However, cross-country travel by air poses plenty of unique challenges for those who use these essential mobility devices. If you plan on flying home for holidays to see friends and family, then there are several things you should know as you prepare for your flight.

Breaking It Down

If you were expecting to board your flight with your scooter by your side, think again. Mobility scooters and power chairs are usually checked along with the rest of the luggage. To save space, they're also disassembled and stored for the duration of flight and reassembled once you reach your destination.

As you're planning your flight, you want to have the following on hand to make things a little easier on airport staff:

  • Have a copy of the disassembly and reassembly instructions included in your owner's manual on hand. There should also be instructions included explaining how to handle the scooter batteries.
  • Several tags displaying your name, address and contact info. Just like your luggage, these tags should be attached to the larger portions of your scooter, as it will help officials identify it in the event that it's lost or stolen.

You'll also want to find out if your mobility scooter is equipped with non-spillable absorbed glass mat (AGM) or silica gel cell batteries. Both types of batteries are designed for safe handling under a variety of travel conditions. If your scooter comes with sealed lead acid batteries, your airline may invoke special handling procedures to ensure passenger safety and prevent potential damage.

It'll Be There When You Need It

Many travelers who rely on mobility scooters often worry about long waits between disembarking and receiving their scooters. Airlines understand this and, as a result, often have policies in place that prioritize mobility scooters when removing luggage from the plane. That means that your scooter will most likely be among the first items to be unloaded after touching down. 

It's also a good idea to plan for extra time in order to get your scooter cleared through security. The Transportation Security Administration's current policies dictate that all scooters and other mobility devices are subject to the same level of scrutiny as items belonging to able-bodied passengers. That means you might have to wait a little longer for security officials to complete their inspections. 

Most importantly, you'll want to have plenty of time to get everything done after you've arrived at the airport. You'll be under less pressure to make your flight and not have to worry about any unexpected circumstances that could derail your departure. If you are worried about an expensive scooter being damaged or taking too long to disassemble, you may want to buy wheelchairs that are cheaper and use them instead. And, most airports provide wheelchair and scooter services if you don't have one.