Quadriplegics who fly on planes…

Are there any quadriplegics that do or have flown on a plane?

My question is how do you deal with doing weight shifts?

Are there any other things that I need to know when traveling on a plane?

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I have a gel cushion and as i am transferring from the wheelchair to the plane seat I have someone stick the cushion on the plane seat.

I’m not a quad but a para but I do fly a lot and here are a few things to consider:

  1. Make sure you have a cushion to sit on… optimally the one in your chair but if not, something that will protect your butt and keep it as cool and dry as possible.
  2. You are going to be the first to get on the plane and the last off so plan your time accordingly. Also build in time for wheelchair transfers to the aisle chair, wheelchair assembly (if it has to broken down).
  3. Don’t book any connections that give you less than 90 minutes between arrival and departure of the next flight. As I said before, you will be first on and last off so you need enough time to get off one flight, navigate the airport to the next gate and then be ready to pre-board the next flight.
  4. Make sure you request extra assistance when you buy your ticket and then make sure you let the airline staff know once you get to the airport. Also let them know you want to “gate check” your wheelchair which means you will use it right up to when you get to the door of the plane and that you want it at the door of the plane when you get to your destination. If you are connecting to another flight make sure you tell them you want your chair at the interim stops too otherwise you may not see it until your final destination.
  5. Big one… watch your fluid intake and food intake… you will
    NOT be able to use the bathroom on the plane at all. If you intermittent cath try to do it 30 minutes before you board and try to limit your fluid intake for the duration of the flight (depending on how long it is). If you have a bowel program try to get your business done the day before you fly at the least and do any other ritual sacrifices to the SCI gods you can to insure an accident free trip.

I know this sounds like a lot but in reality the ability to fly and get places far outweighs the extra effort we as SCI people have to deal with.

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All very good points. Thanks.

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I’m C6 quad and have flown 3 times with a Permobil Power Chair. Important planning tips (in addition to the great tips previously posted.)

1.) Power Chair must be broken down enough to fit through the aircraft cargo door. Bigger aircraft (example 737) will have A much bigger cargo door then say a small commuter (EMBRAER ERJ). Look up aircraft specifications for each leg of your flight. I put removed parts in separate empty suitcase at the end of the jetway at aircraft door…be sure to get checked bag tag.

2.) Arrange power wheelchair accessible ground transportation at your destination. If there are no accessible busses, trains or cabs (rare) then you may need to rent a wheelchair van and arrange for that to be brought to the airport. I had to cancel an entire trip when the only rental wheelchair van at my destination broke down days before my trip.

3.) Call each airport in advance to ask for assistance and request isle wheelchair at your gate. Arrive early and reconfirm these requests when you check in and again at the gate. If you don’t see the isle wheelchair at your gate then keep asking.

4.) FYI - I don’t plan to fly with a power chair again and am getting a manual wheelchair for air travel. My new plan is to ship my wheelchair van ahead to the destination airport with my power chair and shower chair in the van.

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Hi - To me it is very important to have my Roho seat cushion on the actual airplane seat to stop the possibility of pressure wounds. It elevates you a little but that’s ok. Let the airline, airport, TSA etc know well in advance what assistance you will be needing, and do so again the day before travel. Don’t think you are being a nuisance by doing so. The more reminders they get the better.
Also arrive in plenty of time to go through all the formalities of check-in
Above all enjoy your travels and keep positive.