TRAVEL BY AIR WITH DUCHENNE: ORLANDO-SPECIFIC RESOURCES
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The Golden Rule for traveling with Duchenne is Plan Ahead
- Make all arrangements well ahead of your travel day.
- Contact the airline ahead of time to approve medical or mobility devices.
- Request special travel assistance like checking a scooter or power wheelchair.
- Coordinate local transportation and other logistics at your destination.
- Research ride options and reserve or rent a wheelchair-accessible van in advance.
This article is a good primer on traveling by plane. It lists specific airline contact numbers, your rights as a traveler and tips for dealing with TSA.
To Bring or To Borrow?
- Depending on your mobility needs and comfort, you may want to rent equipment.
- If you are hesitant to bring your power chair, you could consider many models of foldable power chair options depending on individual needs.
Places in Orlando that rent everything from power chairs (~$55/day) to CPAP supplies, so you may decide to leave some bulkier equipment at home and rent it. Note that they have 20 shower chairs at the hotel and the accessible beds are lower to the floor.
Mobility & Equipment Rentals in Orlando
Bring everything you need for the flight
- Your medical and mobility devices do not count toward your checked luggage or carry-on limits.
- Check scooters, non-collapsible wheelchairs, and other battery-powered wheelchairs at either the ticket counter or at the departure gate.
- Items that don’t fit in the cabin and you won’t need during the flight may need to be checked.
- Assistive devices such as BiPAPs, cough assists, and comfort items like cushions, armrests, or footrests that fit into overhead and under-seat storage are allowed.
- If you have medications, travel with the prescriptions from your doctor.
Get your in-flight devices pre-approved
- If you need to use any battery-operated electronic medical devices during the flight, you must send in a physician consent form (similar to this one).
- Give the airline at least 48 hours prior notice.
- Don’t depend on the availability of a power outlet to support your device. Bring any necessary batteries fully charged to power your device throughout the flight.
TRAVELING WITH A POWER CHAIR
Pack up and prepare your power chair for travel
- Speak directly to the actual person who will be taking the chair and putting it into the baggage area.
- To ensure the proper handling of your power chair by airline staff, attach an air travel configuration card to your chair: https://www.beneficialdesigns.com/air-travel/air-travel-configuration-card/
- When packing a power chair for travel, protect the joystick with bubble wrap
- Remove all accessories and bring them in a separate case or rolling duffle bag.
- Check the chair at the gate if possible, and then transfer to a manual chair provided by the airline.
- Roll the manual chair up the walkway and transfer into the plane seat.
- Utilize the airline aisle chair or get the Perfect Lift to help with the seat transfer.
- Deplane last to give the crew time to get your chair out of the cargo area and up to the gate. (Be patient, sometimes it takes a while!)
Bring your MyID bracelet with you
- Wear your bracelet or put the included stickers on your phone, wheelchair, or other items that will always be near.
- If you don’t already have one, order your free MyID bracelet here.
- Check out Hawken Miller’s blog on when he needed to use his after fracturing his femur recently here.
Coordinate travel to and from each flight
- If you have a connecting flight, schedule travel assistance within the airports well in advance with the airline.
- Remind ticket agents and flight attendants on both ends of the flight of your needs.
If traveling with a power wheelchair, secure local transportation from the airport when you land. Book your ride option well in advance, especially if you may need to rent a wheelchair-accessible van.
Limit eating/drinking prior to the flight
- Use of the lavatory will require transfer to airline aisle chair and flight attendance assistance.
- Have a disposable urinal or a condom catheter with you, just in case!
Don’t travel alone
- Even if you are an adult living with Duchenne, travel with a trusted friend/relative or caregiver.
- Flight attendants may be unable to help lift or lower you from seat to wheelchair to toilet.
EVEN MORE HELPFUL RESOURCES
Paralyzed Veterans of America
An amazing resource for information on traveling with a disability.
- Watch this informative video here on their website: https://pva.org/research-resources/tips-tools-resources/
- Read then print this handy PDF for easy reference: https://pva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/airplane-travel-checklist_3.pdf
Fearless Traveler Blogs
- Hawken Miller is living with Duchenne and has written about the planning necessary in order to travel well: https://musculardystrophynews.com/2021/07/19/enjoying-travel-with-duchenne-muscular-dystrophy/
- Cory Lee is a self-described travel addict and wheelchair user hoping to inspire you to start rolling around the world: https://curbfreewithcorylee.com
Social Media Groups
Join these social media communities for more insightful ideas on how to travel well!
- Traveling with Duchenne FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2629847807091575
- Accessible Travel Club FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/922487997878069
Always remember that the Cares team is here to help with any questions you may have! futures@CureDuchenne.org
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