Flying with an ECV

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by lorijohnhill, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. lorijohnhill

    lorijohnhill DIS Veteran

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    I will be flying from CA to PA in March/April. I use a Pride Maxima ECV and have been unable to find any info online about flying with it. I tried calling the airline (Southwest) to inquire about scooter weight limits, but the rep I spoke with couldn’t find any info either. She said to just show up and it would be fine. I am really nervous about doing this.

    Have any of you flown with this heavy of an ECV? Any experiences you can share?
     
  2. SteveMouse

    SteveMouse DIS Veteran

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    Regardless of any weight (and your scooter weighs less than many wheelchairs) , it will need to meet SW’s requirements regarding batteries, and you may want to arrive at the airport with some extra time.
     
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  4. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    (overall) Weight of the assembled scooter is far less a concern these days than the type, and capacity of the battery.

    Be prepared to tell your airline the Amp Hours and/or voltage, and chemistry of your battery(s); each airline may differ in their policies, so never assume, always reach out to their Disability Services or Special Services (name may vary) office at least two weeks prior to the flight.

    If you intend to gate check your device, be sure to let the airline know, and arrive to your gate early so that the agents working the flight can prepare to move your device down to the tarmac, and ultimately into the hold under the plane. If you intend to take your device apart, be sure to get a gate check tag and ticket for each part of your device.
     
  5. lorijohnhill

    lorijohnhill DIS Veteran

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    They have a form I need to fill out, mainly about the battery type, if I remember correctly.

    How to they get it down to the tarmac? I can’t see them sending a 300 pound scooter down the little shoot like they do strollers. Maybe they do, it just seems tricky to me. Is it better to leave a larger scooter off at the ticket counter with the checked luggage and have wheelchair assistance to the gate?

    I guess I am most worried about getting to the airport and being told I can’t take it. Then what?

    Can you tell I have a bit (lot) of anxiety? Lol
     
  6. Bete

    Bete DIS Veteran

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    Maybe, get a supervisor at Southwest and they may have better info.
     
  7. Simba's Mom

    Simba's Mom <font color=green>everything went to "H*** in a ha

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    I haven't, but I have been on Southwest a lot and talked to people traveling with ECVs. They just gate check it, after they check in with the agent at the gate to get a tag. Everyone I've talked with remarks about how easy it makes their trip.
     
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  8. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    It's ok; It's perfectly understandable to be anxious when you're talking about the device that replaces your legs.

    At most airports there will be a service elevator available to the ground crews, they will push your ECV to the elevator, take it down to tarmac level, and then load it into the hold. Depending on the airport, they may ask you if it is possible to take your scooter apart into multiple pieces. At that point, they will have the option to simply carry the pieces out the jetway door and down the stairs to be loaded. This is why it's important to know if you are going to gate check the scooter as a whole unit, or as its constituent pieces; You want to get a gate check tag and ticket for each part that goes down to be loaded. In the event that your scooter needs to be disassembled, make sure you know how to – And can – reassemble it yourself.

    Do you know the actual weight of your unit assembled? Unless it happens to be something insane like 1000 pounds, and you can't disassemble it, I wouldn't worry. People fly all the time with heavy duty electric wheelchairs - they're quite substantial in weight - and have no problems gate checking them.

    Call your airline and talk to them; I'm sure you will feel much better after the conversation!
     
  9. lorijohnhill

    lorijohnhill DIS Veteran

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    Thank you! I appreciate the reassurance.
     
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  10. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    Here's a thread that I posted about my first time flying with my ECV. Like you I was nervous that I would do something wrong.

    https://www.disboards.com/threads/my-first-trip-with-my-ecv-on-a-plane.3646065/

    My trip was a non-stop flight from New Orleans to San Francisco on United. As you know all airports are just a little different in exactly how they are set up. But the basic procedures are the same. I had to navigate getting to the rental car facility (offsite) that all rental car companies have to use at SFO.

    Some people had told me to remove all things that could be removed like the basket. I asked if they wanted me to take off the basket and was told it was up to me. I left it on. No problem.

    The only thing that I would double check is that the size of your ECV meets ADA standards. Not the weight - but the dimensions.
     
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  11. johnsgrl

    johnsgrl Mouseketeer

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    Having just had a bad experience flying with mine, I will add it would be very helpful to put a tag on the knob for free wheeling labeled "LIFT KNOB BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO PUSH SCOOTER MANUALLY" so that uninformed crews (I'm talking to you DELTA) don't manually push it with the drive system engaged.
     
  12. arminnie

    arminnie <font color=blue>Tossed the butter kept the gin<br

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    Since I was instructed to take the key with me, my DH set my ECV to free wheel after I got off and took the key.
     
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  13. johnsgrl

    johnsgrl Mouseketeer

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    As was I, but sometime after they took it, someone knew to push the knob down. The receiving airport however didn't have anyone who was knowledgeable enough to pull it up before taking it off the plane.
     
  14. dizneefan13

    dizneefan13 Earning My Fins

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    This thread is very helpful.
    Does anyone know if all airlines allow taking an ECV right to the plane? I know most do.
    It just seems like its time to buy one after spending so much money renting them, especially now that we are doing longer stays.
    It is only needed for Disney vacations, but like I said, it really adds up!
     
  15. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    As far as I know, all airlines allow you to take your personal mobility device all the way to the door of the plane; however you can easily find out by simply calling your preferred airline, and asking.

    I can't stress enough - arrive a bit earlier than you normally would (I add 30 minutes, but we typically arrive two+ hours early anyway, so...) to allow a bit of extra time. You may find that TSA at certain airports will pull you and your device aside for a special "swabbing". That's OK. Don't worry; it just adds a bit of time. (Don't leave any personal items in the basket, under the seat, or hanging off the seat; be prepared, and run those through in the bins provided.) Make sure that your ECV battery is compliant with current FAA regulations regarding size and battery chemistry - I personally know of someone who flew out of the US with a battery that was approved for travel in the US, but the manufacturer wasn't aware that the "oversized" battery they sold at the time was illegal in a number of Asian countries; he had to leave a $500 battery in China (local officials wouldn't even allow it to be shipped back to the US, it was confiscated) and arrived back in the states with his personal ECV, but no battery. Your preferred airline should be able to tell you what the maximum size battery (typically ECVs use either SLA or Lithium-Ion) is that they will allow on board.

    Built in to that extra time is to allow for working with the gate agents at your flight's gate (approach as soon as they show up to work your flight) to let them know that you are there, you will need to gate check your ECV and you will need to ride it down to the door of the plane. They will ask you if you need an aisle chair - the special wheelchair that is made to fit down the narrow aisle of the plane. If you can walk the few steps to your seat, then politely decline the aisle chair, and wait to be called for your flight!

    I would also tag my ECV - just use a standard luggage tag, and a zip tie - even though you will have a gate check ticket, it never hurts to have your name on everything when you travel. Last bit of advice: take a picture of your (assembled) ECV without you on it - if you need to show a gate crew what it looks like, it will be invaluable. All the times I have flown, I have never had a problem, but I did see one other customer who failed to put her gate check on, and they sent her wheelchair up to luggage services because there was no gate check ticket, and no identification.

    Finally, some airlines (the one my hubby works for does this) will ask you to take any *removable* batteries off the device, and carry them into the cabin with you. You will be given a special spot (typically one of the first overhead bins inside the door over First Class) where your battery(s) will be stored during flight. I have a special bag just to carry my batteries in (I carry the maximum I can LOL) and if you are asked to remove the battery(s) just be prepared to do so. Again - ask your preferred airline when you call.
     

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