Dear Editor,

Can you tell me if the airlines will let you take your motorized wheelchair on board and if they charge you? What about cruises?

Thank you,

Sam DiGuiseppe

Airlines and cruise ships do, indeed, allow people to travel with their motorized wheelchairs at no extra cost.

Not every cruise ship is wheelchair accessible, but most are these days. Call the cruise line you’re interested in to find out about their specific accommodations. Certainly, the newer ships are a breeze to get around in a wheelchair, and many ports of call have fairly good access as well.

Airlines, while accepting motorized chairs, do require that the chair be stored in the cargo hold during the flight, unless the chair can be folded to fit in a cabin storage area. Airlines prefer gel or dry cell batteries to acid ones, but there are procedures they can employ to handle every battery type.

The normal routine has a wheelchair user transferring out of his or her wheelchair to an “aisle chair” at the gate. This aisle chair is narrow enough to fit down the plane’s aisle, bringing you to your seat where you will once again transfer. Aisle chairs have several belt restraints, and airline personnel will assist in all physical transfers from seat to seat.

Meanwhile, your motorized chair will be disconnected if you haven’t already done so, and stored below with the luggage. Make sure you request a “gate tag” at check-in, so that your chair is brought to you at the gate upon landing.

See the tips area of this website (What, Me Travel? and Of Planes and Power Chairs) for further information.