My daughter-in-law’s 86-year-old father, Jim, traveled from the Midwest to South Florida with my son’s family for a visit with me last month. She rented a wheelchair from the local hospital as her diabetic father had some trouble walking. My son was flying separately with Jim and everything went smoothly until their layover in Atlanta.
When the wheelchair, which had been gate-checked, was brought up to the gateway my son could not open it. No one could open it as the frame had been bent when it was most likely thrown into the luggage compartment. The airline provided a wheelchair to use while in the airport waiting for the next plane, but it was awkward for my son keeping track of the broken chair as well as luggage while airline staff pushed his father-in-law to the next gate.
Wheelchair replacement by airline
What to do? Upon arrival at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, my daughter-in-law took the broken wheelchair to the Delta service office. Luckily, Delta had a relationship with a medical equipment rental and repair service not far from my house. It was time consuming, but everything worked out. We got Jim into my van with the help of his crutch, dropped off the wheelchair to be fixed and were given another one as a rental that the airline paid for while Jim’s was getting fixed.
Sightseeing with a wheelchair
I was worried about sightseeing with a wheelchair but found that it was almost an advantage. At Walt Disney World, all seven of us got to go to the head of every line and wait in a special area where we could leave the wheelchair and make the transfer onto the ride (all quite tame–no roller coasters for Jim). That’s like winning the lottery when it comes to accommodating three young children–hardly any waiting in line.
Consider the terrain of wherever you are going because it is quite strenuous to push a wheelchair up an incline and strength is required to hold it back when going down a hill. I was particularly concerned about taking him to the beach. But in the handicapped lot on the ocean side of the street was a sign for a special kind of wheelchair that goes over sand. The lifeguard brought a kind of reclining wheelchair with big orange plastic wheels that didn’t get stuck in the sand, which was perfect.
Don’t be afraid to travel with a wheelchair. It might turn out better than you imagined.
Tags: Elder Mobility, traveling