If you’re traveling with a wheelchair by air for the first time, the wheelchair services at airports are pretty standard. Most of the time, you will be able to use your wheelchair all the way through to boarding until you’re seated in the first couple of rows with your chair stored nearby, though if you prefer to check it in, an attendant will assist you in transport around the airport and with boarding, with another attendant readily available to assist you upon your arrival.
Whether you are flying alone or with a companion, it’s highly recommended that you send your wheelchair to a repair shop for maintenance beforehand to ensure it’s in good shape prior to your trip. 1800Wheelchair also suggests bringing a travel size repair kit that’s filled with all the necessary items needed to replace a pneumatic tire, and these repair kits can easily be purchased at any major bike retailers and department stores. Although airports do have their own sets of wheelchairs and a maintenance station, you need to take all the necessary precautions.
Depending on the carrier, some airlines charge extra for specialized services. Parking4Less explains that some require a fee for online check-in and priority boarding, while others charge a little more for deluxe escort and assistance services. Airports and airlines are bound by law to provide wheelchair assistance for free, but passengers will have to pay a certain fee for motorized carts regardless if they are disabled or not. With American Airlines, the cost can range between $125 to $275 for one passenger, plus $75 per additional adult and $50 per additional child. The service also grants the passengers access to its Admiral Club lounges.
In terms of the best airlines that provide the best wheelchair assistance, Disability Travel shares that it all depends on the airport staff, and the airline crew and staff that are on duty during your time of travel. The best you can do is come prepared to face any situation.