Help traveling with a parent in a power chair


Posting on behalf of a community member:

Looking help on traveling with my mother who is a paraplegic (needs an electric wheelchair, which isn’t portable per se, to move around). My family is planning a wedding in Lakewood New Jersey at the end of March and us living in the Midwest makes it a little tricky. I would appreciate some advice on the best way to travel there.

Flying sounds like the best idea but 1. despite airlines being clear that they could work with my mother’s situation, it would be nice to know how well they actually accommodate and 2. We don’t know how easy it is to get transportation in NY especially if we have to get to Lakewood.

On the other hand, driving could work but the minivan we have at home isn’t travel friendly. (I called around for rentals in our hometown, Milwaukee, but they are very expensive and restrictive).

Any advice would be extremely helpful.


It depends what airlines you fly. I used Southwest and I’m in a wheelchair and they’ve been helpful.


BC spinal injury has a 7 part series on flying with a w/c, which show everything works from curb to getting on plane. It might help with some of the fears of flying. attached is the link.

If Amtrak has a depot close enough they have accessible sleeper rooms we have used.


First of all to be closer to Lakewood I would look to fly into Newark Airport in NJ.(closer to Lakewood) I have only flown on Southwest since in chair who allows first boarding, bulkhead seating when available. One issue to take in consideration will be restroom needs. I find once on plane I cant use restroom so often I need to break up long flights in 3 hour segments(I have yet to fly outside of US for that reason) If she can be managed in manual chair much easier to fly though she could loose independence of electric chair but might have several people available for the wedding to push. Chair would be stowed under plane and brought up to plane and possibly onto(which I do) when all have exited at end of flight. I know they will accept electric chairs stowed underneath but you have seen your luggage and chairs way more expensive and hard to replace if tossed about. Can mom transfer into car and out? which would determine if rental car vs van could be used. When looking to rent ramped van if u can find rental extremely expensive. Be sure reservation at hotel is for ADA room with roll in shower. When buying airline tickets be sure to indicate need for handicapped assistance to plane on ticket. Be prepared going through TSA for pat down and chair to be thoroughly examined and if it isnt pleasant surprise…Any questions ask.


We flew with Delta… The staff went beyond being helpful to make sure hubby was comfortable and the one male Steward even help adjust hubby all during the flight. If you are going to be staying at a hotel call and make sure they have accessible vans … we did this and the only issue we had was trying to get one from airport. You can also call the cab companies to see.

Oh make sure you call ahead or when you get to airport that you will need assistance to get on and off plane or gates. The Staff we encountered at Miami and Detroit were amazing.


First thing, reach out to TSA disability specialist to discuss needs and or accommodations required.

Discuss other issues besides w/c including types of medications, food needs, durable medical equipment and or screening limitation that will be traveling with too.

Can ask for assistance getting through security.

I also contact the specific flight “disability assistance program” as many offer additional support.

additional resources for renting “accessible vans”

Hope this proves helpful
Nurse Beth


I can suggest to purchase a portable powered wheelchair. It weighs about 50 pounds n portable it folds n can b carried as a luggage…
Good luck