How easy is it to travel on a plane with your mobility scooter or power wheelchair? The answer is, it's quite easy as long as your batteries are in compliance with the FAA. Airline regulations in the United States may differ from one another, but there are two main regulations to note. In this article, we will unpack them and explain how it affects you.
Traveling on a Plane with a Mobility Scooter or Power Wheelchair
Two types of batteries power mobility equipment today: lead-acid and lithium. Modern portable mobility scooters for travel only use non-spillable batteries, which do not leak liquids even if the outer case is cracked. The FAA website states that non-spillable batteries are compliant for air travel.
They can remain installed on your device if it is securely attached and clear from damage to the battery housing. If there are any cables, they can also remain connected if the device is protected from accidental activation.
But what happens if your equipment uses lithium batteries?
Lithium-ion Battery Regulations
If your mobility scooter uses a lithium-ion battery, the battery cannot be larger than 300-watt hours. The FAA also places a limitation on wheelchairs and mobility scooters that do not have protective housing for their lithium-ion batteries.
It is important to check the type of battery your mobility equipment uses and get a replacement or backup if necessary.
Airline Regulations For Mobility Scooters and Power Wheelchairs
Some airlines have slightly different regulations for mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs. They all follow the FAA guidelines; however, there are some differences in storage options for each airline. Click on the links below for each airline for their specific guidelines.
Things To Do When Traveling With Mobility Equipment
- Notify the airline in advance
It is always a good idea to notify the airline in advance of your need for assistance, to help them prepare adequately.
- Arrive early for check-in
Most airlines will check to make sure that your batteries are compliant and that it can fit into their available storage. This can take time so make sure to arrive early for check-in.
- Note down the names of any customer service representatives who handle your equipment
Before your equipment is taken away for storage, it is important to note down the names of any customer services reps who assisted you and ask them to do a visual check of your mobility scooter or power wheelchair. Request a copy of this in case of damage to your equipment. In the event of accidental damage, that is your proof that your wheelchair was in good condition beforehand.
In Summary: Air Travel with Mobility Scooters & Power Wheelchairs
When traveling with your mobility equipment, check beforehand that you are fully compliant. The most important thing to check is your battery type. Using the links below, read the FAA guidelines on different batteries.
Make sure to plan ahead and notify the airline of your need for assistance. Some airlines will ask for a doctor's note so please check in advance if there are any of these requirements. Arrive at the airport early and keep a copy of the storage documents for your mobility device.