03 Aug Traveling With A Mobility Aid
Traveling with a mobility aid can be complicated but exploring life outside of your “comfort shell” can be worth any trouble. We live in a world that was not designed for limited mobility. Some people live their whole life with mobility challenges and others may only experience a mobility challenge when recovering from an injury. When experiencing a mobility challenge, the thought of leaving the comfort of home can come with anxiety and confusion. Fortunately, businesses are slowly working to include more accessible options for everyone, not just typically abled people, especially in the travel industry.
There is no one right answer on how to travel with mobility aids such as the M+D Crutches. Every mobility challenge is different, and everyone’s comfort level and tolerance to risk is different. This blog will help you answer some of the questions you might have as well as discuss the resources and opportunities that are available for individuals who are traveling with crutches or any other mobility aids.
Preparation and Accommodations – Plan for the Worst, Expect the Best
Traveling with a mobility challenge takes more planning due to the unpredictable challenges that may arise. It is likely that traveling with a mobility aid will be more expensive because of the accommodations you will have to plan for. Below we will outline a couple of the key components to consider when traveling with a mobility challenge. Check out this article of simple steps anyone can take when preparing for a trip.
Arrange your travel ahead of time.
Researching your accommodations for your trip is a good way to relieve stress and help yourself understand what type of accessible options you will have at your destination. Most of the accommodations you will need will be to help you throughout the flying process as well as getting to your hotel once you land.
Before your trip:
If you predict you will need additional assistance within the airport, it is important to request this ahead of time. You can do this by contacting your airline or calling the airport directly to be forwarded to the right person. Airlines are required to aid passengers with a disability, even if it’s temporary.
The M+D Crutches do not collapse. For this reason, you will want to call ahead to ensure that the airline is aware that you will be storing your mobility aid on the airplane. M+D Crutch users who travel with their M+D Crutches are able to hand off their crutches to the flight attendant for storage. At the end of the flight, the flight attendant will return the crutches to the user.
If you’re interested in checking your M+D Crutches to store under the plane, you will want to take apart your crutches so that they can be assimilated into a luggage bag. We recommend acquiring a value that is at least 33” long and 9” wide. You can find affordable bags that can fit your M+D Crutches on Amazon. We recommend this one!
The M+D Crutches were designed to walk long distances in comfort. When navigating the airport, be sure to keep your crutches with you if possible for a comfortable mobility experience.
If you are uncomfortable walking through the airport with your mobility aid, you can request an airport wheelchair ahead of time. All requests ahead of time should be made through the airline, not the airport.
It may also be a good idea to try to reserve the bulkhead seat on the plane to allow for more space. If you will be transferring from the aisle chair into your seat, you may consider purchasing an aisle seat so that the transfer is seamless.
In the airport:
Arrive at the airport as early as possible to allow time for unexpected accommodations. Be sure to self-identify as a passenger with disability needs. You are entitled to your crutches or mobility aid until you reach the gate of the airplane.
In the United States, all airports are equipped with handicap-accessible bathrooms. Airports also provide elevators and portable wheelchairs to assist passengers with their mobility needs.
Baggage assistance is also provided and can be requested ahead of time.
On the airplane:
Getting on and off the airplane can be difficult when one is experiencing a mobility challenge. Fortunately, anti-discrimination laws have been created to protect the disabled, and airlines within the US are prepared to handle a variety of mobility-related situations.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is a law that prohibits commercial airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities, including short-term disabilities. The US Department of Transportation is responsible for enforcing the act and the US Department of Transportation can assist you with advocacy when preparing for your flight. According to the US Department of Transportation, “if you believe your rights under the Air Carrier Access Act are being or have been violated, ask to speak with a Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). ”
If you called ahead, the airline should be prepared to help you with seating accommodations related to your disability as well as where to stow any assistive devices. In fact, many airlines have devoted departments to assist individuals who live with short-term or long-term disabilities. Click here to learn more about the best airlines for individuals with disabilities.
Passengers with a disability are given priority when boarding the plane. If you self-identify as a passenger with a disability, the airline must allow you to board the plane before others. Additionally, passengers with disabilities will be the last to exit the plane, so it is important to build in extra time if you have a connecting flight.
To file a Consumer Complaint with the US Department of Transportation click here.
After the flight:
Depending on your mobility needs, getting to your hotel from the airport may be complicated. Some hotels offer accessible vans and buses that can pick you up from the airport.
A ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft can also be a good solution for transportation.
When you arrive at your destination, you may be looking for a place to store your M+D Crutches when you don’t need them. On a custom order basis, Mobility Designed can provide you with crutch clips to situate throughout your destination living area.
These clips have an adhesive back that will stick to walls, countertops, and anything with a flat surface.
Click here to request a clip from Mobility Designed!
Your M+D products should fit comfortably into most vehicles.
If you are in a wheelchair and need an accessible van, Uber Wheelchair Accessible Van (WAV) is an accessible option in many cities within the US. The certified drivers of these vehicles can help you store your wheelchair or scooter and will strap you in the car to ensure a safe trip. Note: Uber WAV is only available in select US cities, click here to see if WAV is available in your destination city.
A separate, but more expensive option for transportation is to rent an accessible vehicle for you. Many companies across the US, including accessiblevans.com, make it easy to figure out where the most successful and affordable vehicle is for your travels. Many of these companies will even drop off the vehicle at the airport so you do not need to worry about picking it up from a select location.
A note about self-advocacy while traveling:
Each mobility challenge is different. For this reason, it is important to advocate for yourself while traveling as you know your personal needs better than any other individual. Be prepared to know how to get what you need just in case the airline is not prepared to accommodate you.