Air travel advice?

From a member of our community:

I am going to Cancun, Mexico from the December 1 through December 9. I am in a wheelchair and I have not traveled for a couple years in this condition. I’m looking for an airline ticket at this point in time. I would love your expertise with how the airlines treat my wheelchair and what I need to prepare for and expect.

i fly Southwest a lot because they are easy to board. My chair will go onto the plane as far as the first row. Never had a problem with damage to chair, but I remove everything I can from the chair and store it in the overhead bin before I let them stow the chair. Arms, footrests, clothing shields, cushion.

I don’t travel with a wheelchair. I use a walker which I bring with me to the gate. The attendant takes it from me at that point and when I exit the plane the walker is brought back to me.


We traveled to Cancun, Mexico about 1.5 years ago. My husband uses a manual wheelchair for all mobility. We flew through Spirit because we wanted cheapest direct/ non-stop flight. It was cheap and you get what you pay for in some instances. We had no issues with how they treated the wheelchair or getting on the plane in Chicago. HOWEVER when we arrived in Cancun, there was not a jetway. Instead there were the stairs from the plane down to the tarmac. My husband is not small - in fact quite large. It took 3 men to get him down the stairs in the aisle chair. Then we needed to load onto a bus (that was not accessible) to take us to the terminal/ customs. I am not sure if all of the airlines arrive this way or not. Getting on the plane, there was a jetway and we never had to get on the bus to depart.

I travel with either a manual wheelchair or scooter (and a walker). I drive the scooter or wheelchair down the jetway to the entrance of the airplane and use the walker to walk into the plane. My scooter (or wheelchair) is put into cargo and is brought up to the jetway once we land. I have successfully flown with both Southwest and American without any problem. I suggest you contact the accessible department of which ever airlines you choose to fly several days in advance, advising them of your mobility problems.

I have visited Cancun on several occasions but those have been excursions from a cruise ship each so so no familiarity with airlines. I use a mobility scooter and had no issue taking it go Alaska except they outfit back together backwards even we landed in Seattle and I had to show them why it would not work. I will caution you about sidewalks in downtown Cancun. They did have local van transportation from the port that accommodated my scooter and we agreed to meet the driver at a specific time and place to return to the ship. Worked out nicely. Downtown sits right on the water. On one side of the street is water and on the other side yiu find the shops and restaurants. There are curb cuts at the intersections with side streets but I must caution you to be sure your wheelchair is in the middle of the curb cut. At one corner as my granddaughter and I crossed to the next block my scooter was not dead center in that curb cut and my scooter rolled over with me in it. I could feel it happening as if it was in slow motion but there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. I rolled towards the street which was on my right. There were four Mexican men sitting on a low wall to my left and all four jumped up and helped me and my scooter up. They made sure I was okay and I was but embarrassed. My granddaughter whispered in my ear to make sure my top was pulled down because in the fall I had split the back of my slacks wide open from the waistband down. Fortunately I was unhurt and my top was long as when I returned to our stateroom my slacks were a lost cause and ended up in the trashcan. I was crushed as that was the first time I had worn them byt it was not the seam that ripped but the fabric along the seam. Ruined they were for real. So be careful navigating sidewalks.