Day-Of Air Travel Guide

You’ve planned and prepared and its finally the day you fly out! Now what? This Day-Of Guide tells you step-by-step what to expect and what to do. Note: it is a UK site but is overall applicable to any traveler with disabilities. Some highlights of what it covers:

Bring Airline forms. These may include:

  1. Incapacitated Passengers Handling Advice form (INCAD)
  2.  MEDIF (Standard Medical Clearance Form) -Part 2 needs to be completed by your own doctor. Good for only one journey.
  3. FREMEC (Frequent Travellers Medical Form) -often available from the airlines and can be used for frequent travellers. This can avoid the need for separate medical clearance for each journey.


  1. At the airport and having checked in, you should arrange to remain in your wheelchair until the time to board the plane. At the entrance to the plane you should be assisted into a narrow aisle chair, carried on this and helped into your seat on the plane. You will usually board first and disembark last.
  2. Make sure that your wheelchair is tagged on the main frame as this will go into the baggage hold. Take wheelchair footplates and arms into the cabin for storage.
  3. Once aboard the plane, request that the cabin staff radio ahead to your destination to ensure your wheelchair is ready immediately on disembarking.

Flight Accomodations

At the gate, you could ask for any courtesy first/business-class seats that might be open. These will also have more leg room. If there is any problem when you are at the gate, ask for a complaints resolution officer (CRO). All airlines are required to have one at the airport. This person is empowered to act on behalf of the airlines, and may or may not be overruled by the pilot for safety reasons.

At the check-in desk, ask for a bulk-head seat. There is more leg room and space to carry out any manual handling such as repositioning or pressure relief. If that is not available ask for an aisle seat with arm raise facility.

(Some other resources suggest doing so when reserving your seat)

In-Flight Facilities

  • Ask about disabled accommodations when booking flight.
  • If you usually pass intermittent catheters, consider a urethral indwelling catheter for the journey. Some airlines may insist on this if the toilets are not accessible so check first.

Temperature Concerns

  • Consider the effects of hot or cold on your cushion. Check your skin for pressure marks regularly.
    • Gel in cushions may become more fluid in hot conditions and firmer in cold conditions.
    • Roho cushions may need the air to be adjusted. Some air may need to be taken out (in hot conditions) or added (in cold conditions).
    • Be aware of Poiklothermia: the reduced ability to regulate your body temperature below the level of your spinal cord lesion. Air conditioning may be a factor as well as extremes in the temperature of the country you are visiting.

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