Whatever cruise or vacation you take, the importance of purchasing TRAVEL INSURANCE cannot be emphasized enough. Travel insurance is available that covers pre-existing illness. We can outline the specific guidelines for you to make sure you are properly covered. The cost of travel insurance is money well spent and will allow you to travel with peace of mind in case of unforeseen circumstances. Please note that many insurance plans, specifically Medicare, do not cover any medical expenses when traveling outside the United States.
Air Travel with a Wheelchair or Scooter
Be familiar with your equipment!
You or the person you are traveling with needs to know how to operate your wheelchair or scooter. This means knowing how it folds, what parts are removable and how to remove them and how to reattach them, what type of batteries are used, how to change a power chair to manual mode so it can be pushed, etc. If you use a power chair it’s a good idea to remove the joystick and take it on the plane with you to prevent damage. Put all pertinent information about your equipment on paper and have it laminated. Attach this to your chair or scooter so the people at the next airport can deliver it to you properly and safely. Always use your own equipment to the door of the plane and ask that it be brought to you every time you land. If you have a manual, folding chair ask that it be put onboard the plane in the closet. This is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Remember to label your chair and all removable parts with your name and contact information.
Be proactive when you travel. When you get to the gate, let the gate agent know you are there. Get a tag for your chair and remind them that you need to pre-board. Prior to landing, remind the flight attendant that you need your chair brought to the door of the plane. Never assume that your needs are going to be automatically met. Learn to be assertive without being rude.
If you have a complaint about anything that cannot seem to get resolved while you are at the airport, ask to see the Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO). All airlines are required to have a CRO on duty or on call. This person is trained to handle all types of problems including those that affect the disabled traveler. Air travel for persons with disabilities is governed by The Air Carrier Access Act.
Getting Through Security
The best source for up to the minute information on TSA (Transportation Security Administration) regulations for persons with disabilities is through www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/specialneeds/index.shtm . We are available to help you understand the rules and regulations. Remember to get to the airport early so you can avoid stress.
A few important points:
- Medical equipment and supplies do not count towards your allowed carry-on limit
- Disabled people are not required to remove their shoes prior to going through security
- You are entitled to a private screening if you desire
Traveling With Oxygen
Airline travel is available to persons who require in-flight supplemental oxygen. Negotiating the many obstacles, however, can be challenging. As an oxygen user it is your responsibility to make your own arrangements. Patience, perseverance and having the appropriate information available will help you plan your trip. A helpful tip: keep written information in front of you, note who you speak with, and write down contact information.
Your trip begins with the airline. Each airline has its own policy for on-board oxygen transport and in-flight oxygen usage. You will need to contact the individual airline for their current policies regarding oxygen. You must carry your prescription for oxygen with you at all times. Many of the airlines have their own airline specific medical form for your Doctor to fill out. These are generally good for one year. A helpful tip: keep your other medications, prescriptions and forms with you while traveling and not in your checked baggage.
The FAA has approved several POCs (Portable Oxygen Concentrators) for in-flight use for passengers requiring oxygen – the Inogen One, AirSep Lifestyle, AirSep Freestyle, SeQual Eclipse and Respironics EverGo. These are the only POCs approved at this time. They can be stowed under the seat in front of you during flight and can be battery powered when not plugged into an electrical socket. Remember: YOU must confirm with your airline carrier that they will allow your POC on your specific flight.
NOTE: YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE ANY OTHER PERSONAL OXYGEN SYSTEMS ON BOARD. FILLED OXYGEN TANKS (LIQUID OR COMPRESSED GAS) CANNOT BE CHECKED AS BAGGAGE ON ANY AIRLINE. While a few airlines continue to provide oxygen for their traveling passengers, most do not. Some airlines will allow empty oxygen equipment to be stowed in baggage but it must be verified as empty and the regulator removed. Check with your airline ahead of time to see if they will allow empty systems/tanks as stowed or checked baggage.
Once you have decided on your oxygen needs, you will need to contact your oxygen provider to see if they can provide you with a POC approved for air travel. If not, you will have to rent or purchase one independently. You will need sufficient battery power to cover pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight time. Remember you will need to arrive at the airport 1 – 2 hours ahead of your flight time. At Gate Check-in you must have battery power for at least 50% longer than your scheduled flying time. (For example – if your flying time is 3 hours, you will need 4 ½ hours of battery power) You will need to cover your travel time to the airport, airport waiting time, your flight time and the time it will take you to deplane, pick up your checked baggage and travel to your final destination. Plan ahead for any possible delays. Non-Stop or direct flights will keep the battery time to a minimum.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) provides public tips on safe carriage of batteries and battery-powered devices such as medical equipment. For information on how to safely travel with oxygen equipment batteries, please visit the DOT web site. You may want to contact your insurance carrier to determine coverage for your oxygen needs while traveling. When you make your flight reservations be sure to advise your airline you intend to travel with oxygen. Most airlines require that you contact them at least 48 hours before the flight to advise them that you will be traveling with oxygen and the form of oxygen with which you will be traveling.
At the Airport you will need to pass through Airport Security. If you are traveling with an approved POC, that will need to be identified on the POC itself. All TSA approved oxygen systems can safely be x-rayed if requested. If you are traveling with a portable oxygen system, you will be allowed through the security area after inspection and may take the system to the gate. If the system is not an approved POC you may NOT be permitted to take it onto the airplane and will need someone with you to remove it from the airport. If you do not use an approved POC oxygen supply you will need to arrange for an oxygen supply at your destination.
Just a Reminder
- Buy Travel Insurance
- Always pack medications in your carry-on
- Have a written list of all medications & dosages and a written account of your medical history (give a copy to the person you are traveling with)
- Pack medications in their original containers
- Bring an extra pair of glasses
- Carry extra batteries for anything that uses them
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and pack one in your luggage
- Let your travel agent know all your special needs and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Be pro-active
- Remember – this is your vacation – you deserve to have a great time!
TSA Tips for Summer Travel
With so many people getting ready to head to airports across the country, we thought it a good time to review the TSA Do’s & Don’ts. Contrary to what many of you may think, it is not TSA’s goal to make your life difficult. Know the rules and follow them and you can breeze through security. Let’s talk about shoes for a moment. Did you know that persons with disabilities never need to remove their shoes? Just inform the agent that it is very difficult for you and they will hand screen your shoes. Persons 75 and over and 12 and under do not need to remove their shoes either.
Here is some information on frequently asked liquid, aerosol and gel items:
- Deodorant: Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz. or less, but gel or spray deodorant is
- Powdered Toothpaste: This is fine in both checked and carry-on bags and does not apply to the 3-1-1 rules
- Suntan & Sun Block Lotion: Lotions – both pump and aerosol – fall under the procedures that I mentioned above. Sun block sticks do not fall under this rule
- Beverages: Wine, liquor, beer, and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage. You can also bring beverages packaged in 3.4 oz. or less bottles in your carry-on bags in the baggie
- Gel Inserts for shoes are now permitted
- Foods: Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, dressings), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces and soups
Make Travel Easier
This is our continuous goal at Easy Access Travel so we want to introduce you to another product that can Make Travel Easier for you, our valued clients. Luggage Delivery makes traveling with special needs easier. Their agents retrieve your luggage from baggage claim and deliver it directly to the destination of your choice. Perfect for wheelchair users, slow walkers, and persons with mobility disabilities. Luggage Delivery service can also benefit travelers with bad backs, heart conditions, low endurance and hidden disabilities. Call us for names of recommended Baggage Services.
Taking a cruise?
Many of the major cruise lines have now partnered with Luggage Services to help provide easier disembarkation on last day of cruise. For a low fee, Luggage Services will take your bags from the port on day of disembarkation and you will not see them again until you arrive at your home airport! You will receive airline luggage tags and your Boarding Pass so you simply get off the ship, go to the airport and head directly to security. No more standing in line to check your bags. Your cruise ship will provide information to you during the cruise regarding this service if offered. Easy Access Travel strongly endorses this service and encourages you to use it. It will Make Travel Easier. We Love It!