‘Bringing a wheelchair on to a plane’

A chara, – Aisling Glynn's article "How do you bring your wheelchair on to a plane?" (Health + Family, October 2nd) resonated with me. I have had a quadriplegic spinal injury since 1994. Travelling by plane has now gone beyond a joke. Most flyers get stressed in an airport these days, with long queues, check-ins, security checks, etc. All those are worse for a disabled person. We now have to add in the new frustration of a weight load for all items physically moved by baggage handlers.

Having taken out the person from their wheelchair, the airlines are now insisting on baggage handlers not pushing wheelchairs that weigh more than 120kg. If the chair can be “broken” into parts less than 120kg, then that’s fine. But no power-chairs can be realistically disassembled. This means that no “high-level” disabled wheelchair user who needs a large, heavy chair with motors and two massive batteries can realistically travel by plane again. These are medically prescribed and essential items.

Aer Lingus states on its website that, “For the purposes of loading onto and transport aboard our aircraft, wheelchairs must be capable of disassembly into constituent parts weighing not more than 120kg each.” This is a moving and handling issue, because they have to physically push the chair across the concourse, into the elevator and outside to the hold, where it is loaded into a “can” or box. These are then rolled into the hold.

I travelled abroad in July and had to go in an inferior chair that I kindly got from a medical supplier. It did not fully meet my needs. My occupational therapist was not at all pleased, especially considering that the HSE had prescribed the chair, which weighs 185kg. The trip was great but I was greatly compromised. There’s no way for us “raspberry ripples” to get off the island at this stage! – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.