The Air Access Seat for the Passenger in a Wheelchair

Wheelchair Travelers on Airlines May Get Better ‘Air Access’!

Yesterday, we looked at some of the deplorable problems faced by travelers in a wheelchair on airlines. Today, we’re happy to bring you some recent developments that just may make your future flights a fabulous experience!

A US Airways Airliner

After we posted our article on Facebook, a gentleman named Scott commented with the suggestion that authorities should “fine these companies” that don’t properly accommodate their passengers with disabilities. They heard you, Scott! It was announced just yesterday that the US Department of Transportation has fined US Airways $1.2 million for failure to provide wheelchair assistance to passengers with disabilities in Philadelphia and Charlotte, NC.

According to the department’s regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines are required to provide free, prompt wheelchair assistance when requested by passengers with disabilities. That includes helping passengers move between gates and make connections to other flights.

Wheelchair Passengers at the Airport

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said, “All air travelers deserve to be treated equally and with respect, and this includes persons in wheelchairs and other passengers with disabilities.” He goes on to say, “We will continue to make sure that airlines comply with our rules and treat their passengers fairly.”

No word about treating every wheelchair and mobility device with respect, but at least it’s a start. And as wonderful as that news might be, there’s even better news! Check it out!

The Air Access Chair Promises to Change the Way Airlines Transport Passengers in a Wheelchair

This proof-of-concept airline seat developed by British transport designers Priestmangoode (see the seat in the locked position in the top photo) would solve a number of problems for flyers with reduced mobility. Called ‘Air Access’, this seat could potentially be installed into all aisle seats on an aircraft. Here’s what that means:

  • There would be more seating available for passengers with disabilities, and mobility-impaired passengers would get to sit with their traveling companions in larger groups, particularly on wide-body planes.
  • Using the toilet becomes infinitely easier, because all you’ll need is assistance to unlock the seat and be wheeled up the aisle.
  • The seat pad is removable, so passengers with a spinal cord injury and other conditions can sit on their own specifically designed cushion for maximum comfort during the flight.
  • Because it integrates seamlessly into the plane’s interior, anyone can sit in the seat when it’s not being used by a passenger with a disability.

'Am I Dreaming?' Cartoon About Wheelchairs on Airplanes

Though not exactly as convenient as in the cartoon above, this seat comes pretty close! Air Access is comprised of two elements: a detachable wheelchair into which passengers are assisted at their departure gate so they can be easily transported on and off the aircraft, and a fixed-frame aisle seat already on board. The wheelchair has 360-degree, pivoting wheels so it slides easily into place and locks securely. It looks just like a regular airline seat. At the end of your flight, the wheelchair unlocks from the frame, and you exit the aircraft as effortlessly as you boarded.

Watch the video to see how this wonderful solution works! We can’t wait to read your comments!

Sources:
forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2013/11/12/us-airways-fined-1-2-million-for-failure-to-provide-wheelchair-assistance-to-passengers-with-disabilities/
designboom.com/design/priestmangoode-makes-air-travel-easier-for-passengers-with-reduced-mobility/

Image Sources:
designboom.com
cleveland.com
airlinetickets.org
johnmckenna.com.au

81 thoughts on “Wheelchair Travelers on Airlines May Get Better ‘Air Access’!

  1. tlcpadgett1@comcast.net'Thelma

    I am having trouble seeing the keyboard to type due to tears of joy! Until about 10 years ago my one of my greatest joys was planning my next trip! Due to a progressive neuromuscular disease, I have quit flying. This article gives me hope to travel again and complete my “bucket list”! Thank you to everyone working to make this possible.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Thelma! We agree—this is a pretty impressive advancement in assistive technology! If enough people with disabilities tell the airlines you want this accessible seating pronto, the airlines may expedite their manufacture and usage. Everyone wins with this solution! Thanks for your comment!

  2. dixie@kansas.net'dixie hoogendoorn

    back in the 60’s I flew to Hawaii to meet my husband for R &R I was loaded into the first seat my chair would get me to.. Going home the only way they knew to load me and my chair, thanks to a Marine colonel (and the fact I was recovering from too many Mai Tais), I was lifted to the back of the plane and wheeled aboard to find a seat.
    my new yellow linen slacks were totally ruined when I had to scoot on the floor to the rest room. ( Yuck, don’t they ever clean those rugs???)
    Thanks in advance to who ever started working on this. Sounds like I might try again if I need to fly to my son in D.C. if there is an emergency Thanks again.!!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Dixie! We brought you the news as soon as we heard it. Flying may be worth another try, and you might want to consider US Airways—their personnel should be bending over backwards to help passengers in wheelchairs these days! If you do, please let us know how it goes! Happy travels, and thanks so much for following our blog!

  3. susan102251@comcast.net'Sue

    Although a “step” in the right direction, I pray to see the day when the disabled traveler can sit in their own wheelchair on the plane….Or at least know it is strapped down in luggage and treated as it should be. I am tired of padding it with tons of foam so it looks like a spaceship, and praying the entire flight that it doesn’t move around….I attach signs letting them know it costs $70,000 and PLEASE treat it with respect….I have brought straps to tie it down in luggage, but they have never used them…..

    If the overhead luggage bins don’t keep carry on luggage secure, imagine what the chair is doing in the luggage compartment below….Also, the comfort in airline seats isn’t the best for my son, and I always have to try and stand him up to move his position during flight…..He is a quad with CP and doesn’t walk at all….

    Love the video….REALLY LOVE the cartoon!!!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Susan! We loved the cartoon, too! You’re right! Maybe it’s time for the same company that designed the Air Access seats to develop a special airline cargo hold that will prevent wheelchairs and mobility scooters from moving during flight. If the airlines used multi-page forms like car rental companies, which would indicate all prior damage on wheelchairs and mobility devices before they leave your sight for a flight, you’d have a record that would prove any new damage for which they’d be financially responsible. It’s past time for all this to happen. Thanks so much for reading our blog!

  4. momaandme@att.net'Robert/Elizabeth Cutrer & mom

    we took a trip in feb2013 and I called to make all the arrangements and to check on the status of flying with a physically handicapped parent. I was assured they would be well accommodated. sad to say that we were not well cared for. first our flight was canceled after we drove 3 hrs to airport. then we stuck on aircraft for 4 hrs on tarmack due to weather. then we were left hanging at connecting airport missing the original flight due to weather for 4 hrs. not getting to our destation til after midnight. All of this and the airlines were NOT PREPARED for the transportation and care ofour handicapped mom. Mom spend half of our time away from home in the bed due to the lengthy time consumed waiting and sitting with legs dangling and cramped in a seat that had not room at all to move. Sure we could have paid over 2000 dollars for a first class seat and probly gotten service while sitting on tarmack. but really the airlines make their money on the travelers who spend less on the flight than those who pay more. the planes hold at lest 60 ppl and at an average of 300 dollars a ticket that is a min of 18000 per flight of average 3 hrs about 6 flights per day. in comparison to 1500 dollars on low sid of first class ticket and and 20 passengers makes the airline another 30000 dollars so we have almost 50000 dollars we will do a min of 4 filght comes to 200000 per day min —– cant the planes be more accessable for the FEW to be able to travel more and more comfortable no matter their mobility.
    it would be nice to be able to see a family member and not have to only be able to drive for 5 days to get there and 5days to return and spend 5 days to visit —- damn call it a month for the whole trip — when for less time to travel it could be more time to visit
    anyway we were so dis appointed that our mom was stuck in bed because the airline could not live up to their assurances that all accommodations would be handled and they were not
    it would be nice

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Robert, Elizabeth and Mom! Wow! We can’t even imagine your frustration that day. If all the CEOs of all the airlines went through just one experience like that, who knows how different—and enjoyable—air travel would be for people who use wheelchairs? AMS Vans does what we do so people with impaired mobility can have the most comfortable, convenient mode of personal wheelchair accessible transportation available—on the ground. Let’s hope the airlines catch up soon! Thanks for your comment—and all that eye-opening math you provided!

  5. barbaralorenz@gmail.com'Barbara Lorenz

    Thank God..a prayer answered ! My son , Dustin, 35, had a spinal cord injury c4 quad, 10 years ago.
    He has had numerous bad experiences traveling and so has become somewhat home bound due to
    all the problems with transporting his power wheelchair as well as just getting o to the plane and inadequate seating as well as long term pressure sores from transfers into non -disability available seats , as well as just simple access ability . Thank you thank you thank you! A first step ! Hope and persistence pay off !

  6. alib8428@sbcglobal.net'Alison Babcock

    Love it!
    It’s one of those “Why didn’t someone think of that sooner” Ideas.
    Can’t wait to find somewhere to fly so I could use that. lol.
    Thank you to the one who suggested this. 🙂

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Alison! You may have to wait a while until the airlines recognize the overwhelming impact this amazing seat design can have on their companies and their customers. What if everyone who uses a wheelchair and wants to fly without frustration sent airline CEOs images and information about these chairs, along with a personal story about a less-than-stellar flying experience? They might take notice. Thanks for your comment!

  7. walterssooners@yahoo.com'Tamara

    This would be a step in the right direction. The article mentions that you could just wheel this thing to the lavatory, but how on earth could you even get into the tiny bathroom! They have to address the bathroom situation for long flights as well.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Tamara! You’re absolutely right. The airlines might have to take out a row of seats, but it seems they could make at least one restroom easily accessible. Thanks for following our blog!

  8. Tanyatreas@aol.com'Tanya

    This is going to be such a blessing to sooooo many people. I remember taking my son that has DMD on a flight. First we had to take him out of his custome wheelchair and place in a hard metal chair with wheels pushed him down the Isle to our seats. His seat was a window seat so I had to pick my 125lb son up and place him in the window seat at hit my head so hard that I had a headache the whole flight. This will help the disabled and the care giver in a great many ways. This will allow so much freedom and comfort. Thank you forsomeone coming up with this.

  9. srdfhour@aol.com'Sheri

    This summer, I discovered my adult disabled son loves to travel. So much better than day care. He woke up with all the new found stimulation! I’m considering flying with him next trip, but all of the above comments are what go through my mind. I just returned from a trip with US Airways. We’ll see. Sure would be a no brainer if these seat/chairs were available. Thanks for who ever put this into motion!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Sheri! The seat design was created by engineers and designers who focus on transportation technology, and they clearly have a winner with this incredible idea. Let’s hope the airlines pay attention. Thanks for your comment!

  10. jcppp62495@hotmail.com'Julie

    My son is in a custom formed seating system and can NOT sit up right in any other types of seating. This would not work for him so we continue to not be able to travel in the air. He also has to be in a reclined position in his chair. I don’t understand why they can not remove a seat completely put tie downs on the floor, just like in accessible vans. This way those who are in their chairs remain where they are the most comfortable. They have a long way to go!!!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Julie! Someone else who commented suggested something similar, using EZ lock docking systems in the planes to secure wheelchairs, which might work, but it’s not likely a wheelchair would be able to make it through those narrow aisles. The industry does have a long way to go. We’re hoping this is just the beginning of big changes for the airlines. Thanks for following our blog!

    2. kslxray@gmail.com'kelly langston

      I have been saying that for years. My daughter can not sit alone she has a customiced wheelchair for her needs. I had to hold her for a 9 hour flight once and I literally felt like I was goink to have a heart attack. And it was very unsafe. I agree remove a seat if needed with tie downs incase of a person who cannot transfer. It is a injustice to people and their families. Something has to be done and soon.

  11. DenisePentland@yahoo.co.uk'guys mum

    Looks like the start of a fab idea. The ability to add additional supports/chest strap would also be helpful. It would also be amazing if airlines could provide a place where a disabled person could get changed. Still in pads but unable to sit/stand. Where do you change them???….floor! Glad airlines recognising an issue that needs addressed finally. The seat is a huge step in the right direction.

  12. angelapmmase@aol.com'Angela Mason

    This is amazing as my son is quadrapledgic cerebral palsy . We always struggle to lift him into the aircraft seat and we are not getting any younger would still need to support him as he’s very stiff and keels over. It’s about time the dignity of the disabled is recognised. Hurry and introduce these pleeeeease

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Angela! The Air Access seats would make a dramatic difference in the lives of so many. We hope the airlines are looking very hard at this amazing solution! Thanks for your comment!

  13. taduff59@att.net'Teresa

    This is definitely a step n the right direction, but the best anyone could is to make it possible for wheelchair users to be able to stay in their chair for the flight. Many wheelchairs are custom made for the user. Their seats are molded to their bodies, so sitting in anything else is uncomfortable and many times, painful. I have an adult son that we travel with a few times a year. He is miserable in the airplane seats. We have to lay him down, across our laps. Do you know who we could contact, to petition someone to make this possible?

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Teresa! We don’t know whom you can petition, but you can explain your situation to the design company that created the Air Access seat. Priestmangoode came up with this brilliant concept, and their email address is kirsty@priestmangoode.com. We hope this helps. Thanks for writing!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Diane! Great idea about the chest strap! The seat does have a removable cushion, so if the passenger has a specially designed cushion, it can easily replace the one in the seat for even greater comfort. Thanks so much for reading our blog!

  14. PhilGibbo@hotmail.com'Phil Gibson

    Brilliant concept and design, but some friends I shared this with on Facebook and I have a question. How would this work in an emergency evacuation situation? Would a seat of this kind have to be put near the aeroplane’s emergency exit, or would an emergency situation be dealt with another way?

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Phil! All excellent questions! The designer of the Air Access seat is Priestmangoode, and their email address is kirsty@priestmangoode.com. They should be able to answer your questions. Perhaps if enough people write them with their ideas, questions, and concerns, they’ll be able to come up with more outstanding solutions for the airline passenger in a wheelchair. We appreciate your comment!

  15. brad.val@hotmail.com'Val Duquette

    It is a very good idea, however even better and more suitable for most people using wheelchairs would be the ability to ride in an aircraft in their OWN wheelchair with the appropriated `tie downs` like when travelling in accessible vans and buses. My little son could not use this new chair idea, it would never support him even remotely enough.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Val! Unfortunately, some adaptive designs won’t work for everyone, though it’s encouraging to know that transportation designers are beginning to look at the changes needed on aircraft for passengers in wheelchairs. As one of our other readers commented, it’s a step in the right direction. We appreciate your comment!

  16. kimdcurry@hotmail.com'Kim Curry

    This is an amazing innovation and I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I am a mother of two boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disease. My concern is that when the chair pulls away, there doesn’t seem to be head support. I wonder if there is a way to add head support. And if there is a way to find out. My son has been wanting airlines to allow his power wheelchair on the plane, like the buses in our city do but this seems like a viable option as well. I do expo what others are saying about the care is the power chairs in the cargo area as well. If we could get those two things maybe we can start taking Bavaria add a family again.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Kim! The name of the design firm that created the Air Access seat is Priestmangoode—their email is kirsty@priestmangoode.com. I’m sure they’d welcome your suggestions and those of anyone who has an idea to improve seating on airplanes for those who use wheelchairs. Thanks for your comment!

  17. kimdcurry@hotmail.com'Kim Curry

    Ok, on my last comment, I meant say “take vacations as a family again” not the Bavaria thing, lol. My phone would not let me correct it.

  18. sistergcat@gmail.com'Linda

    Last time I was on a plane was 12 years ago, and with good reason too. It was miserable to say the least. I had just had surgery on both legs and so I had leg casts clear from toe to mid-thigh. The only seat they could even fit me in had been assigned to another person who was (understandably) unhappy about giving up his seat as it was a spot by the door. I also have a bad back, so since there was a person in the seat behind me, I could not recline the seat and my hips dislocate easily. Needless to say I was in quite a lot of pain by the end of my flight. This solution, if it comes into wide practice that is, will hopefully help with the hips… now if only they’ll make spots for those of us who can’t sit up for very long without pain, and to not have my back spasming by the end of the flight and perhaps have seats to accommodate people that cannot bend their knees, then they’d be about set… A lot still needs improved, but sounds like they are at least trying now.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Linda! That’s our view of this advancement, too—at least they’re trying now! We’re excited to see where it goes from here. Thanks for reading our blog!

  19. cutetwistergirl@yahoo.com'jennifer

    My boyfriend is wheelchair bound due to his spinal bifida and traveling on Delta airlines is a major nightmare when it came to my boyfriend. Boyfriend would be so sore and bruised up because when they load him on the plane staff is so rough where he would get pinched come to and from his seat, and my boyfriend would be angry and upset at the same time too. Where it got so bad, I request that I take him to and from his wheelchair from now on because of the individuals that handle him before was so rough and refuse to listen to any and all concerns my boyfriend may have. We havent been on a plane for over two years now because I much rather drive long distance instead of fly because of how horrible it is to get him on and off the plane. Thank you for developing this new and improve seat for individuals with disability. I look forward to hopefully seeing it in the future!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Jennifer! We’d love to take credit for this outstanding solution, but the Air Access seat was designed by Priestmangoode, a company that focuses on transportation design. Their email address is kirsty@priestmangoode.com, if you’d like to let them know how their idea would change your boyfriend’s life—and yours! Thanks for writing!

  20. cparrett3@gmail.com'Crystal

    This is so refreshing to read! !….I took a trip this summer and looked into flying.. But it just didn’t seem that it was handicapped accessible enough. We ended up driving for vacation. But handicap accessibility will be an awesome step towards more options for vacation. However, my 11 year old requires his special wheelchair because he cannot sit straight up….or hold his head up by himself. So while I am super excited for the progress….I hope for future advancments! !

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Crystal! We’re hoping for future advancements, too! It is an amazing beginning. If they can come up with this solution, who knows what lies beyond for enhanced flying for people who use wheelchairs. We appreciate your comment!

  21. jennforbes74@gmail.com'Jennifer

    That is a very good idea. I was just wondering is there shoulder straps available to hold up someone who can’t sit up on there own? Does the chair recline like the other seats?

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Jennifer! Thanks for the questions. For the most accurate answers to your questions, we suggest you head to the WHILL web site. There’s a lot more information there than we were able to include in our post. Hope this helps!

  22. jim_n_phims_mum@hotmsil.com'Leah

    This is awesome! We travel yearly due to my daughter’s degenerative neurological condition and at aged 9 she is already becoming difficult to transfer (many thanks to the staff at QANTAS who are fantastic!). I’d love to see this technology in all planes!!!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Leah! So would we, and based on all the comments we’ve received about the Air Access seats, so would thousands of others for whom these seats can’t be implemented fast enough. It’s in the hands of the airlines, and we can only hope someone is showing this concept to airline CEOs around the world. Thanks for reading our blog!

  23. Debrak55@aol.com'Debbie Edmondson

    From your lips to God’s ears. I have been a C-6 quad for 32 years, and I travel by air at least once, sometimes twice a year. I have nightmares about the aisle chair. That thing is PURE EVIL. It doesn’t help that the airline skycaps have a very generic knowledge about how to help most handicapped patrons. When I tried to explain that if I lean forward without “hooking”, I’ll fall flat on my face, they usually look at me like I had two heads. And on my last trip, after I was strapped onto the “dolly” aisle chair, instead of tipping me back and pulling me up into the aircraft, he lifted the back wheels up in first and one good spasm would have dumped me out. At any rate, I would love to see this come to fruition before I’m too old to travel.. What suggestions do you have to make that happen sooner rather than later?

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Debbie! We wish we had the answer to your question. Perhaps if enough people wrote the CEOs of the airlines they want to fly with the reasons why the ‘Air Access’ chair would be good for their business and make a world of difference for passengers with limited mobility, along with a photo or the video of the chair, they might take notice. If one of our other readers has any suggestions, we’d love to hear them. Let us know! Thanks for reading our blog, Debbie!

  24. dawn@seagull.co.za'Dawn

    <3 <3 <3 This is a dream come true.
    I only hope they do start becoming a reality in time for me to use them.

    There is still a need for armrests on the mobile device though, as some of us need to push ourselves up with our arms and as the airline staff are not allowed to help pick us up we still cannot get out of the chair to use the toilet facilities. Apart from that – I love love love this concept.

  25. Thenewsight@gmail.com'M.

    Unbelievable. This would definitely calm my fear of travel. What an excellent innovation. Susan – do you know which, if any Canadian airlines utilize this technology!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi M.! Unfortunately, at the moment, I don’t believe any airlines used the Air Access wheelchair. It was recently introduced as a “proof of concept” by a design company that specializes in transportation technology. Perhaps, when enough people write to airline CEOs to make them aware of this game-changing wheelchair and the difference it would make in the lives of thousands, they’ll take notice and begin incorporating them into their aircraft. Thanks for following our blog!

  26. madonnal37@aol.com'Madonna Long

    I travel frequently, although I will say its a better idea. But here we go again is it equal access. Well no. What if you have a team of hand cyclers on the plane? Can all of them get the same access to that kind of a seat? You are now forced to sit where that seat is, what isle is it in. I hope that these issues are being considered in the design to an actual plane.

    US Air is in the hot seat, because of what they did to a man last week who was blind and his service dog. I agree that this is a cool idea and better than what is currently there. But I would like to see at least 20 percent of those chairs like that. So there are many problems with accessibility and some training for our airlines that is needed today.

    Using the toilet becomes infinitely easier, because all you’ll need is assistance to unlock the seat and be wheeled up the aisle… This chair I hope fits in the rest room. It does not look like on any current airline it could.

    Also is this seating retrofitted or only for new airlines. Not sure how many new airplanes are being purchased.
    I love the idea, which I so agree would help with the dangers of the isle chair.

    It can only improve the current system.
    Madonna Long

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Madonna! You raise some good points, and they all might be addressed when the airlines consider using the Air Access wheelchair. Right now, the design is a “proof of concept”, which means it may go through some changes and improvements if and when the airlines realize the difference this chair can make in the lives of their customers with impaired mobility. We hope it won’t be long. Thanks for your comment!

  27. tweety722@comcast.net'tina

    the article says “Because it integrates seamlessly into the plane’s interior, anyone can sit in the seat when it’s not being used by a passenger with a disability.” so does that mean, if you (w/c user) has to use the restroom and if someone else is sitting in the chair, they have to get up so you can use the chair? thats not cool it should be designated for your use only.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Tina! What they mean by that statement is that, if there are no passengers with limited mobility who require those seats on any given flight, they’ll work for able-bodied passengers as well. No one can sit in that seat when you use the restroom, because the seat is a removable wheelchair. When the chair is removed, anyone who sits there will be sitting practically on the floor of the plane inside the frame that holds the wheelchair in place. Thanks for your comment!

  28. sgchristiansen@hotmail.com'Sharon

    Hi Susan this sounds like a great start! I would like to say if the airlines could do removable seats across the whole front and then move the personal wheelchairs into position and strap them in place with tie downs,(just like on the bus or in thier personal vehicles) this would be the ultimate as it would eliminate having to transfer clients and load chairs into cargo holds also eliminating damage claims from chairs bouncing around the cargo hold and possibly damaging other luggage in the process! I would like to mention that even the cheapest of chairs is astronomically expensive.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Sharon! Your suggestion to remove seats in the front and install electric docking systems or wheelchair tie downs so any mobility device can be used on a plane is truly the optimum solution for passengers in wheelchairs. Unfortunately, from the airlines’ standpoint, if they eliminate a significant amount of seating to accommodate the wheelchairs, they’d lose revenue on every flight that doesn’t have any passengers in wheelchairs aboard. That’s what makes the Air Access seat so attractive. When compared to the current system, they’re far more comfortable and convenient for the passengers who need them, and when they’re not assigned to a passenger with a disability, able-bodied people can sit in them as they would any other seat. There may also be safety issues involved if a variety of mobility devices is aboard during an emergency. The Air Access seat isn’t the optimum solution, but many think it’s a great compromise and an excellent move toward rectifying a difficult issue. We appreciate your comments!

  29. behrpainter@yahoo.ca'MaryAnn

    Well, somebody had their thinking caps on. Well done. My sister-in-law is in a wheelchair and I’ll certainly be sending her this information.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Mary Ann! Like you, we hope the airlines find this solution one they can quickly adapt, so passengers in wheelchairs will be less reluctant to fly in the future. Thanks for following our blog!

  30. brrychdd47@gmail.com'Barry

    This is the biggest problem for people in our condition. The next thing would be assessable restrooms for long flights.

  31. PICU2Mom@yahoo.com'Joyce Carpenter

    My son is 27 years old and we have flown with him some. We always have to transfer him into the aisle seat which is very narrow and move him again into a seat. This new seat looks incredible but needs more. Best would be as many others have indicated to be able to travel by air in own motorized wheelchair with an EZ lock as we have in our van. Ben has Duchenne MD and needs support for feet as well. But the Air Access Seat is a start.

  32. shashee@comcast.net'Sheri Paraday

    Awesome idea! We flew 1 time with my daughter and had a horrible trip so the next 10 years we drove her to Disney. My daughter is Cerebral Palsy Quadipulgic and would be nice if she could just stay in her own wheelchair to travel. Why can’t they modify the first row in coach where they have extra room? Like, make seats that fold up for a wheelchair like on a train and then put back down for others to use when no wheelchair is there. I am wiling to give the new chair a try but, lifting 110 lbs from chair to chair can be heavy and tired sum.
    If it will save us travel time, I’m all for it!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Sheri! Thanks for following our blog! We just learned why personal wheelchairs can’t be used on commercial aircraft from a source at the company that designed the Air Access chair. “The main reason this is not possible is safety. Airline seats have to go through stringent crash tests, and personal wheelchairs would not be able to withstand those.” The Air Access chair may be the best option until a better idea comes along. Any ideas out there?

  33. sconover1989@gmail.com'Skylar

    Absolutely LOVE these! I recently flew from Texas to North Carolina transferring flights in Atlanta, GA. It was an awful experience with not being able to find my wheelchair after I left it in the airline’s staff hands to complaining about having to go find an aisle chair after they already pushed me down to the plane and why trying to ask me “can’t you just get on the plane without an aisle chair?”- I am in a wheelchair for a reason, I don’t just use one for fun. Then not even offering to help me get to passenger pick-up, when I was by myself. I am so glad somebody is finally stepping up and doing something about it. I have alway traveled with my manual wheelchair though due to the fact that I don’t trust my power wheelchair on the airline and that is sad because I am not able to be independent with my manual. Due to my neuromuscular disease it is difficult to push a manual chair so it would be amazing if someone came up with something similar for the protection of safety transporting our wheelchair during the flight. These chairs are our transportation and when they get broke during a flight we can’t go anywhere with a broken chair and it causes so many problems.

    Thank you so much for trying to make traveling a little easier and less stressful for us with disabilities. I do have a question regarding this new technology. Would the foot rest be able to come out when you are just flying? I noticed that the foot plate comes out after you unlock the chair but when it is locked into place it goes underneath the chair. If the foot plate is able to come in and out whether locked into place or not then great, however if it doesn’t have that option I would hight suggest trying to come up with a way to have a foot plate. I know for me I am short and so my feet don’t touch the floor therefore my legs dangle. It is extremely uncomfortable and hard to keep my blood circulated properly if they are in this position. So that might be something to keep in mind.

    Skylar

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Skylar! These chairs have created quite a buzz! Clearly, the airlines have a lot to learn about compassionate treatment of their passengers who use wheelchairs—and their wheelchairs! To answer your question about the foot rest, we recommend you go to the source, not just for an answer to your question, but to give them the suggestion if they haven’t already incorporated it into their design. You can email the company: kirsty@priestmangoode.com. Thanks for your comments!

  34. mrsmustard66@yahoo.com'Suzanne Desmond

    This needs to be on every airplane that is able to accommodate!!! I had an experience with flying this past August. We missed the pre boarding due to the speakers being too low. They blamed us for missing it & said they had done their job. To top it off they were not even ready with a transfer chair & thought he could walk down the isle of the plane to his seat. They were kind enough to give him a seat in the second row & moved him & myself to first class. With that said though they knew my son was boarding the plane in a wheelchair & were not ready. The flight attendant agreed with us that the airline should have been ready for my son in the first place. It should be a priority for the airline industry but lacks in priority. The workers should be educated in accessibility for all of the challenged passengers & their families that fly with them everyday!!!! I agree that this is just a start, long time in coming, but a start. I think it can only get better from here. Maybe there could even be a toilet invented for passengers in wheelchairs someday for planes maybe not all but at least the flights that take more than 3 hours.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Suzanne! Thanks so much for your comments. Everyone who reads your words, including us, feels the same way. Suitable accommodations for people with disabilities on airlines can’t happen soon enough!

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Salma! Thanks for following our blog. Unfortunately, not many, if any, airlines have installed the Air Access seating in their planes. We don’t know when, or even if, the seats will be readily available for use. When we learn of any airlines using the Air Access seats, we’ll definitely let you know.

  35. joannekleiner@comcast.net'Joanne

    My daughter has severe CP, and when we travel with her, we have to bring an adapted car seat and carry her to her seat. Since she’s now 25,, that’s becoming next to impossible. So when I came across the Air Access seat today, I was thrilled (although I agree with some of the other writers who say it would be nice to see additional restraints on it for lateral support). My question is, do you have contact info for people to lobby for the installation of these seats? For example, who to contact at US Airways? I’m an attorney, and I’m thinking maybe some class action lawsuits are in order. My guess is that the airlines won’t add these seats voluntarily.

  36. jodoinlst@verizon.net'Shelley

    What if the Air Access Seat was a product that the wheelchair owner could buy ahead of time? They could choose to use it when they are traveling with the cushion, etc… they need from the start. That would eliminate the need to transfer when they arrive at the airport. That also allows the airline to check the travelers” wheelchair far ahead of time rather than the last minute scramble.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Shelly! That’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure if it would be practical. The wheelchair part of the Air Access seat is rather large and heavy to comply with airline seating regulations. It doesn’t fold or collapse, so it would be somewhat difficult to transport from home to airport. It’s also unlikely, in this uncertain world, that an airline would allow a wheelchair passenger to take home part of any airline seat for a period of time before boarding a plane. Thanks for your comment!

  37. jocondi@aol.com'Joanne Condi

    Is there a weight limit on this airline wheelchair and which airlines currently have them? We are in the DFW area and my disabled sister wants to fly back home to pennsylvania. The ground ambulance cost is $6800 and she wanted to know about air travel. Please respond quickly. thank you

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Joanne—unfortunately, no commercial U.S. airlines are currently equipped with the Air Access seat. For the details on weight capacity, please check with Priestman Goode, the designers of the seat. Thank you for following our blog!

  38. sljolly@aol.com'Susan Jolly

    As a C4-5 SCI person, flying has been trying over the past 28 yrs. Being dropped on the gate bridge while being transferred by airport staff and watching my electric chair being brought up in pieces are 2 of the worse experiences I’ve encountered. As a Manager who needs to travel for work more frequently than I do, I hope this new design can enable traveling for all those with mobility limitations.

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