I had a lot of reservations when my dad first suggested I buy an electronic wheelchair when we decided to go to Japan. Mostly, it’s because I felt like I do not look sick enough to be on a wheelchair without being judged or having people looking at me weird. Then, I thought, I don’t know the first thing about how to bring an electronic wheelchair on to a plane.
You hear such horror stories about bringing your phone or your external power banks on a plane, and I was so sure that there would be a lot of restrictions. But, after thinking about the good and the bad about bringing the wheelchair with me, I figured, the good outweighed the bad.
When I bought the wheelchair, I made sure with the wheelchair supplier that it was possible to bring it on the plane, and that they gave me all the necessary paperwork. The most crucial paperwork, is the battery’s properties, manufacturing details and also whether it had gone through proper inspections. So, if you buy an electronic wheelchair, with the hopes to bring around for travel, you must insist for the Material Data Sheet from your wheelchair supplier.
Before your flight, you would have to find out what is your airline’s policy about bringing the battery on board. We flew with Air Asia for our flight to Osaka, so I would share the information with you specifically for this airline.
Prior to my flight, I downloaded a form called ‘(BATTERY POWERED WHEELCHAIR / MOBILITY AID FORM“, that you can download via Air Asia website. Then, you would have to proceed with an E-Form, where you have to upload your completed form and submit to Air Asia for their feedback. But, to be safe, I printed out all these forms and brought with me to the airport. And, thank god I did, I think that made the arrangement go faster that day.
Here, I insert for you a link, from the Air Asia website to help you understand further on the process of bringing an electrical wheelchair.
On the day of your flight, you would have to proceed to their special assistance counter. There, the Air Asia staff would offer you help on how to proceed further.
What they told me was that, I could bring my electric wheelchair all the way to the front of the gate. I didn’t know this at the time and thought that It would have to be checked in like a luggage. It was such a big relief as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 is so big, that the walk to the gate could take so much time for me.
I brought a lot of attention to myself riding the wheelchair around the airport. People looking at me weird, impressed, some shouting out things like ‘nak tumpang kak!!”, haih…it was embarrassing, but I reminded myself over and over again, “it is for my own good”. They treat this electrical wheelchair like a baby stroller, so they have a special compartment to store the device. They will make sure that we have turned them off, and fold them, and they will pass you the battery to put in the overhead cabin. I brought a small bag that fit the battery so that it wouldn’t roll around.
Special shout out to Air Asia team for making my first trip with this wheelchair, a smooth and a memorable one. Thank you for making it an easy process for me, I even had the special priority where I get to board the plane with my family before anyone else.
Living with pulmonary hypertension can limit my physical activities, but I love to spend time with my family traveling and discovering new places. Going through the process for the first time and having it went that smoothly, made me feel confident about having the wheelchair with me when I go travel. The more reason for me to believe that this pulmonary hypertension would not stop me from doing what I love.