Tag Archives: wheelchair van rentals

woman in a wheelchair being pushed in an airport

Tips for Airline Travel With a Wheelchair This Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us – and for many, that means some holiday travel. If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair and plan on airline travel, it’s helpful to know what to expect. To make your experience easier and more enjoyable, keep these tips in mind.

Preparation and Packing Tips

Managing Luggage

While it’s important to be prepared, the least amount of luggage you’re able to travel with, the easier things will be – especially if you’re traveling independently. Suitcases with wheels can be pushed by a wheelchair user (similar to a shopping cart) or “towed” behind the chair with some sort of strap or bungee cord. A duffle bag can also be a good option when carried in the lap or secured to the front of the legs with a strap.

Pro Tip: You can bring all the medical supplies you need on your trip, which, unfortunately, can increase the amount of luggage you’ll need to bring along. If you’re forced to check a bag or bring an additional suitcase for medical supplies, be sure to let the agent know when you’re checking your bag. Some airlines will wave the bag fee!!

Come Prepared

Plan to bring a carry-on, such as a backpack, with essential items. Pack your carry-on with anything you may need for the flight, including snacks and drinks (which must be purchased in the airport, after going through security), medication, and entertainment. If you get cold easily, bringing a small blanket or wrap along can come in handy, as it can sometimes get chilly on the plane. Remember that you’ll be first to board and last to disembark, so books and phone games can help pass the time while you wait.

It’s easy to get dehydrated in flight, so be sure to hydrate in the days leading up to the trip. Also, keep in mind that using the restroom on the plane can be pretty challenging, so try to use the restroom before boarding.

mom in wheelchair and daughter with a suitcase inside van

Arrival and Boarding Tips

Arrive Early

Using a wheelchair can make your airport experience take a little longer than usual, so it’s best to plan ahead and arrive at least 1.5 to 2 hours early. This gives you time to find wheelchair accessible parking (which can be extremely limited), get through security, use the restroom, manage logistics, and arrive at your gate in time for early boarding. If you’re not familiar with the airport you’re flying out of, even more extra time is recommended.

The TSA gives some information about disability and security screening procedures here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures 

Request an Aisle Chair if Needed

It’s pretty rare for even a small wheelchair to fit down the aisles of the airplane, so if you aren’t able to walk on to the airplane, you’ll need to request a “transport chair” or an “aisle chair.” You’ll transfer to a narrow chair and airport agents will assist you on to the plane and into your seat. One of these is stored on the plane, too, in case the restroom is needed in flight.

Be sure to ask for the aisle chair when you check-in and get your tickets. Then, ask again at the gate if the chair is ready because sometimes the request can be overlooked. If the aisle chair and agents aren’t on hand to assist when preboarding starts, you’ll have to wait until last to board, which can be awkward with a plane full of passengers.

Prepare Your Chair

When you trasnfer to the aisle chair to board the plane, your personal wheelchair will be stowed under the plane with the luggage. Don’t forget to grab your seat cushion, armrests, bags, and any fragile or removable accessories so they aren’t broken or lost on the trip. Also, consider taking a photo of your wheelchair before they take it away to use as a reference in case there is damage done during the flight.

airplane being loaded with luggage

Throughout the Trip Tips

Communicate Your Needs

Every step of the way, be prepared to be vocal about your needs and comfort level. If at any time you aren’t able to do what an agent asks, you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just say so in a clear and respectful manner. When going through security, for example, passengers that aren’t able to walk through the metal detector will have to have a physical pat-down by a TSA agent. They should offer you a private screening as well as avoid any sensitive areas on your body during the inspection, however, if they don’t offer those things, it’s perfectly within your rights to ask.

Have Your Airline’s Disability Number On-Hand

Just in case the airline staff aren’t prepared or don’t know how to help, call up the airline. Most airlines have a number dedicated to travelers with disabilities, so having this number on hand is very useful. Often the wait times for this number are much, much less than the general phone number. Also, if you have a bad experience with your airline, be sure to reach out to them after the trip to report the incident. Some airlines will compensate travelers with points or vouchers to keep their business.

Airline travel in a wheelchair may not always be easy, but it can be done. If you are prepared and know what to expect, the experience can be far more like an adventure then a hassle! Whether you’re traveling to the next state or across an ocean, your holiday airline travel can be made much smoother by keeping these tips in mind. Don’t miss out on all the awesome things this world has in store to see and do!

view from a person's seat on an airplane of passengers and flight attendant

Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Your Holiday

Don’t forget about accessible ground transportation when you arrive at your destination! If you’re traveling by airplane, that means you left your wheelchair accessible vehicle at home. At AMS Vans, we offer short- and long-term wheelchair accessible vehicle rentals. Plus, if you happen to be in the market for a mobility vehicle, spending some time in a specific model can help you determine if it’s a good fit!

Learn more here or call 800-775-8267 to reserve. 

atlanta skyline

Go Out and Enjoy Summer: Eight Family-Friendly and Accessible Destinations in Atlanta

Did you know that the city of Atlanta was previously named Terminus because it was at the end of a railroad? No longer known as the last stop for trains, today’s Atlanta has lots of family-friendly venues, where your family can create fun memories this summer. All of these destinations are wheelchair accessible so that everyone can get out and enjoy what Atlanta has to offer!

1. Georgia Aquarium

The nation’s largest aquarium is home to four whale sharks, the sea’s largest fish. See them along with four manta rays and thousands of other sea creatures from an underwater perspective as you travel through a 100-foot tunnel. It’s all part of Ocean Voyager, one of the world’s largest aquatic exhibits. Aquanaut Adventures are another exciting reason to visit the aquarium. Each of the seven routes has seven adventures to take part in to learn more about aquatic life, marine science careers, and marine habitats. Staff members are trained to assist guests with mobility challenges who would like to have an experience with one of the aquarium’s touch pools.

a group of people looks at a giant fish tank at the Georgia aquarium

2. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Learning through play is the focus of The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This summer the museum is hosting Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit. Visitors can explore the McStuffins Toy Hospital and enjoy taking care of the hospital’s toy patients. Also, permanent exhibits provide fun ways to learn about science, tools, food and much more. It is sure to be a good time and totally wheelchair accessible for kids and parents who roll.

3. Legoland Discovery Center

Meet your favorite Lego characters, take a Lego factory tour, and build as much as you like at Legoland Discovery Center. It’s a great place for an all-day outing. In fact, you can enjoy lunch in the on-site cafe, catch a movie in the 4D cinema, and see local buildings recreated in miniature.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

Explore important places in the life of the civil right leader and learn more about this important chapter in American history. The park’s visitor center has an exhibit called Children of Courage, which teaches little ones about the civil rights movement. The International World Peace Rose Garden, King’s birth home (second floor accessible by elevator chair lift), and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church that King co-pastored are some of the attractions at the site. Admission to the park is free.

5. Zoo Atlantazoo atlanta sign

While the pandas may be the zoo’s most famous residents, there’s a lot more to see and do at Zoo Atlanta. Observe a feeding, listen and ask questions at a keeper’s talk, or meet an ambassador animal. The zoo’s pathways are easy to roll on and keep an eye out for signs to designate special special wheelchair access.

6. Fernbank Science Center

See the actual Apollo 6 Command Module. Check out live poison dart frogs, turtles, snakes, spiders, and other animals. Catch a show in the Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium at Fernbank Science Center and come at night to take a look through the observatory’s telescope. Admission and parking are free at Fernbank Science Center. Planetarium shows have a nominal fee.

7. Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Piedmont Avenue location has 30 acres of beautiful outdoor gardensto explore. During summer, a nature-inspired story time takes place on Wednesday mornings in the children’s garden. Complimentary wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis.

8. SunTrust Park

Go, Braves! For baseball fans, enjoying a game at the ballpark is one of the great joys of summer. To ensure all guests have a great game day experience, there’s an Accessible Seating Department to help you find parking and seating. Call them at (404) 577-9100 (Option 5). Further, tickets purchased through that department come with a Welcome Kit and a Braves Exceptional Fan Credential.

sky view Atlanta Ferris wheel

With a variety of fun, wheelchair accessible things to do in Atlanta, it’s a great city to experience, whether you’re a local or a visitor! Top any night off with Skyview Atlanta – a 200-ft Ferris wheel overlooking Centennial Olympic Park – it’s wheelchair accessible!

Need to rent a wheelchair accessible vehicle for your Atlanta adventures? AMS Vans has got you covered! Give us a call at 800-775-8267!