Airports in a Wheelchair

Posted on 28th Oct 2012 by ian under Travel Tales | No Comments »

Even if your disability allows cane-assisted mobility, having a wheelchair at an airport can be a Godsend in so many ways.

Forget airports being wheelchair friendly – wheelchairs make airports friendly – never again will I risk just getting by with cane assistance – apart from not having to face a long trip to the gate or rushing to meet a connection, you get to skip the queues.  Folk in wheelchairs (and those travelling with them) get an express at check-in, immigration and customs plus an early boarding – you get to be last off, but that’s no problem.  A quick review of the airports we encountered…

  1. Brisbane – Emirates allow you to keep your own wheelchair until boarding, then the bag it and whip it down for loading in the baggage compartment (unless you require one to take you all the way on board or aren’t travelling with your own.  Emirates is located at the last gate in Brisbane, so it is a very long walk!
  2. Singapore (in transit) – met by a friendly person with wheelchair – she was happy to do a bathroom stop and a wheel around the duty free shops before heading back for boarding.
  3. Dubai – this is a huuuuuuuge airport and would be impossible for someone like me without a w/c.  Met at the plane, whisked through immigration, to baggage collection where own chair was waiting and a seamless track through Customs.  To board the flight to London they took my chair at check-in and had someone to take me to the gate/plane.
  4. London Heathrow – met by a friendly chap with a chair and again, a seamless run through the official channels.
  5. Paris Charles de Gaulle – again friendly Emirates were happy for me to keep my own chair until boarding the plane – and gave us a lovely upgrade bonus to business class.
  6. Dubai & Singapore in transit.  Again, seamless.
  7. Brisbane – met at plane with a wheelchair and transferred to a buggy.  Chatting with the lady driving the buggy and wheelchairs are becoming very commonplace – there were five travellers on our flight needing assistance – a Malaysian Airlines arriving earlier had eleven!  Some airlines (like Virgin) restrict mobility assistance to two passengers per flight.  And, unfortunately, there are some people who abuse the service – lazy, obese or queue jumpers.