Dear Editor,

My wife is semi-mobile, meaning she can walk short distances, but when we travel we take a battery-operated cart. We have had difficulties with various airlines about how they handle the cart. The verbal agreements have been that she rides the cart up to the departure lounge, turn it over to the airline, walk aboard, and THEN, expect that they will deliver it to us at the airplane exit when we land. That is an “iffy” thing to make happen depending upon the airline, depending upon the country. They are quite willing to have it for us at the baggage area, but not always “willing” to live up to their agreements about meeting us at the exit area. I wear a suit, make strong protests that they have agreed to do it, and eventually, they do, after all the crew has left and we are sitting alone, still waiting to get the cart moved from the baggage hold up to us. The cart has taken a pretty bad beating at the hands of unhappy airline people.

Are there any magic words, are there any laws, are there any special departments at the airlines that one has to deal with? Are any airlines notoriously bad or good?

Thanks, Lynne and Dreer Graburn

Sorry to hear about the problems you’ve been having. There are, indeed, magic words to ensure that your chair/scooter is brought to the gate after landing – they are “gate check tag.” The airlines you’ve flown on are seriously negligent for not having told you about them.

When you check in at the airport request a gate check tag for the cart. Do not get a regular baggage tag for the cart! The airline personnel will fill out the tag & attach it to the cart. This tells the grounds crew at your arrival airport to bring the cart to the gate rather than the baggage area.

You will still be the last off the plane, but your cart should be there waiting for you by the time all the other passengers have filtered off. If it isn’t, your approach is correct to demand it be brought to the gate and wait until it is.

Finally, any time your equipment is damaged, demand to speak to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO). Every airline is required to have one at every airport. The CRO has the power to respond to your complaints. However, be sure to actually file a report with the CRO; don’t just let them give you lip-service without guaranteeing the results or compensation you request.