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Paul from Maryland
August 1st, 2004, 06:10 PM
We'll be cruising with someone that uses a power wheelchair. I've read a lot of stuff here but have a few questions:

1. We'll be flying into Fort Lauderdale one day early. What's the best way to get the person with the power wheelchair from the airport to the hotel? I guess we would use the same transportation for going from the hotel to the ship and then from the ship to the airport on the last day.

2. A hotel that's within walking distance to Las Olas Blvd would make it easy to do a few hours of sight-seeing. Any suggestions?

3. I understand the airline will put the power chair in the baggage compartment. Any thing to look our for or general advice for dealing with the airline?

4. Finally, onboard the ship. We'll be on the Caribbean Princess if that matters. Any advice for dealing with the staff on the ship?

Host Walt
August 1st, 2004, 07:29 PM
I'll let others answer your questions about transit between FLL and you hotels but here's a hotel map for the Port Everglades area (Port Everglades is at the bottom of the map and is partially obscured by the Reanissance flag).


http://hotel.undercovertourist.com/mapgfx/ftl_4_files/image_map.gif

Here's a link to the site Port Everglades area hotels (http://hotel.undercovertourist.com/united-states/fl/ft-lauderdale/h/fort-lauderdale-port-everglades/)

Queenie2
August 1st, 2004, 08:38 PM
As far as getting from the airport to your hotel, choose a hotel that has a shuttle. If the provide free shuttle service they have to also provide accessible shuttle service at no charge (even if they have to pay for it or contract it out).

You will have to hire accessible transportation to get to the ship. Make sure and do this in advance as these resources are really stretched thin on departure days.

As for flying with a power wheelcahir, here is a link to some informaitn about protecting your wheelchair when you fly.

http://emerginghorizons.com/book/sample.html

Candy

CaptData
August 1st, 2004, 09:28 PM
If you are flying you must notify the Airline in advance with some of the following info, weight of wheelchair, height, width and type of batteries. These do not count for your weight. I travel with mine all the time. When you get to airport change for one oftheir chairs (check it first and make sure you can use it, they are miss used). You are first on and last off. When you get to your final desination check the chair over carefully and make sure it works. You are going a day ahead which is great.

As per advice above pre-arrange transport from ship to airport. Do not get a plane before noon as it takes longer for your transport then an able body person.

Splinter
August 1st, 2004, 11:26 PM
I would not recommend transferring to an airport chair. Most have non-removable leg and armrests, and many have only small wheels...they usually are clunkers. Take BOTH the power and manual wheelchairs.

Once you arrive at the gate, transfer from the power to the manual wheelchair. Take all the removable parts off the power chair and carry them as part of your carry-on luggage. This includes arm and leg rests, and most importantly the power control box (the most commonly damaged part). Mark the wheelchair clearly that it has gel batteries (which do not need to be removed). Upon arrival, put the chair together and run it through all its functions (tilt and recline, forward, back, turns) before leaving the airport. If any damage is found, file a claim immediately.

You will need the manual chair for shore trips anyway, and you need a back up. Even the best power chair can break down, and you don't want to have to manually push a power chair during a cruise.

Ken
August 2nd, 2004, 10:00 AM
I am no help here, but I would greatly appreciate your posting or e-mailing your experience with the power chair and the airline. If it goes smoothly, I may try it with my son. Thanks.

Paul from Maryland
August 2nd, 2004, 09:36 PM
Thanks, everyone, for your helpful comments. Keep 'em coming!

I did find this today:

-----
Ground Transportation:
Taxi/Yellow Cab: Taxicabs provide transportation for passengers with folding wheelchairs at no surcharge. Wheelchair accessible vans are available at no extra charge, advanced notice recommended. Call Yellow Cab wheelchair taxi dispatch at (954) 565-2800.
-----

Their web site is: Yellow Cab (http://www.fortlauderdaleinternationalairport.com/airport-disabled-traveler.htm)

DesrtDrmr
August 3rd, 2004, 01:22 AM
Hi!
For various reasons we did have to use a taxi to get to our hotel from the airport with my scooter. We just went outside to the taxi line, told them we needed an accessible vehicle with a lift, and we were on our way in about ten minutes. We asked for a shuttle transfer from the hotel to the ship, and since they did have a shuttle for everyone else, they ordered, and paid for, accessible transportation for us. We used the cruise ship transfer from the ship to the airport, and while there was an accessible bus with a lift, we ended up waiting almost an hour for it to fill up and head to the airport. Alhough we had to wait in FLL, we still got to the airport early enough to get ourselves on the wait list for the earlier flight, and got home earlier than planned! :) We always book a flight around 1:00pm, but have always gotten to the airport earlier. Have a great cruise!!!

DEL67
August 3rd, 2004, 11:09 AM
Paul:

My husband and I fly with his power chair at least 3 to 4 times a year.

Splinter covered most things well including the suggestion to also take a manual chair. Manual chairs allow much more flexibility in ports that do not meet US standards (most of them). In addition, if you can transfer to a car/van seat, it also allows you to easily hire taxis while in port.

Like Splinter, I always tell the airline in advance that we are bringing a power chair and that we need an aisle chair. However, I find that that message usually does not get to the airport personnel. So communication is key.

Procedures regarding power chairs seem to be different at every airport and even every airline in an airport ao ask when you check in. Some require you to check it in at the counter, others do so at the gate. Regardless, be firm that you wnat to take the power chair to the plane door rather than transfer to an arline chair. Also be prepared for the request to check the battery even if you have tagged it as gel.

Once we get to the gate, I also find it helpful to tell the gate personnel where we are and remind them that we need an aisle chair. They never seem to aware of that we need an aisle chair even though it is in the record. Then, like Splinter, I take everything removalble on board with me to avoid damage. The airlines will pay for damage, but its not worth the aggravation. I also ask how they would like the chair left. They usually want me to disconnect the batteries and put the chair in the freewheel mode.

Finally, its always good to ask an cabin attendant to call ahead to be sure that your chair is brought to the plane rather then sent to baggage and to have an aisle chair waiting if you need one.

We have not been on Princess, but have been on RCL, HAL, Celebrity, Carnival, NCL and several smaller lines and have found most staff to be very helpful. Some waiters have even tried to push my husband's power chair in the diningroom - a real feat! The ship's mechanics have even made small repairs to his chair like when a bolt broke, making it unusable. Again, communication is key.

I hope this helps.

Queenie2
August 3rd, 2004, 10:45 PM
Paul:


Procedures regarding power chairs seem to be different at every airport and even every airline in an airport ao ask when you check in. Some require you to check it in at the counter, others do so at the gate.




Under the Air Carrier Access Act, you can stay in your own wheelchair until you get to the gate (if you have a gel cel battery). Yes, some US airlines do try to get you out of that power chair at check in (because it is easier for them) , but you just have to speak up and advocate for your rights. Look at it this way -- the less time the airlines have your chair the better, as it means they have less chance to damage it. Always gate check your wheelchair -- never give it up at check in.. If they say you have to give it up at check in -- tell them to call the CRO. It is your right (to stay in your wheelchair to the gate) as long as you have a gel cel battery. Sometimes you really have to be a bit pushy as far as your rights go, as not all airline employees are well trained in access issues. Learn your rights under the ACAA.

Candy

Paul from Maryland
August 4th, 2004, 08:52 AM
Thanks again, everyone, for the great info.

It'll be especially nice to know what our rights are, you'll know what I mean if you've ever watched A&E's "Airline." ;-)

DEL67
August 4th, 2004, 11:41 AM
Paul and Queenie:

When I said that some airlines require you to check in the power chair at the counter, I did not mean that you had to give it to them. I meant that they require you to go to the counter to fill out paperwork and for them to check that the batteries are non-spillable (they will often open them up to look at the label.) For example, American required us to fill out paperwork brfore going to the gate in both Miami and Heathrow. In fact, we once got to the gate in Miami and were sent back get the paperwork filled out so its better to check before going to the gate.

The airline may ask you to change to an airport chair at the same time, but as I said before, tell them you need your chair. Its not just a comfort issue. The longer they have your chair, the more possibility of damage.

The only times we have had an issue were in Heathrow and Barcelona where they refused to bring the power chair to the plane upon landing because of its weight. It was a real problem because my husband is 6' 2" so he doesn't fit the airport chairs with fixed footrests. Luckily, we solved the problem on the way back by checking his powerchair through and keeping his manual one

DEL67
August 4th, 2004, 11:49 AM
Paul:


One more thing. Hopefully, it won't happen, but if an airline damages your chair, even cosmetically, they are required to fix it by the Freedom of the Airways Act. Most airlines understand this and are quick to respond to any damage, but some reps either do not know this or think that they can get away with telling you that they are not responsible for scratches or dents. If that occurs ask to speak to a supervisor and make sure they put it in the record. And contact the airline if it doesn't get taken care of.

Queenie2
August 4th, 2004, 11:47 PM
Paul:


One more thing. Hopefully, it won't happen, but if an airline damages your chair, even cosmetically, they are required to fix it by the Freedom of the Airways Act. Most airlines understand this and are quick to respond to any damage, but some reps either do not know this or think that they can get away with telling you that they are not responsible for scratches or dents. If that occurs ask to speak to a supervisor and make sure they put it in the record. And contact the airline if it doesn't get taken care of.

Never heard of the "Freedom of the Airways Act"

The warsaw convention has some provisions but the ammendments under the ACAA are the most stringent and they say that (US) airlines will reimburse your for the PURCHASE price of your wheelchair (not the REPLACEMENT cost) if it is damaged beyond repair. Be careful (especially if you purchased your wheelchair many years ago) as this is their financial limit.

Candy

Queenie2
August 4th, 2004, 11:51 PM
Paul and Queenie:

When I said that some airlines require you to check in the power chair at the counter, I did not mean that you had to give it to them. I meant that they require you to go to the counter to fill out paperwork and for them to check that the batteries are non-spillable (they will often open them up to look at the label.)


Yes, sorry for the misunderstanding, all US airlines require you to do that, because if you do not have gel cel (non-spillable) batteries, then you have to surrender your wheelchair at check-in. Otherwise you can stay in your wheelchair until the gate. Althought most check-in agents try to get you transfer to an airport wheelchair, no matter what.

Candy

Paul from Maryland
August 5th, 2004, 07:48 AM
I understand we'll give the airline the power chair at the gate, when boarding. What happens with the manual chair? Does it go in the baggage compartment too? I guess it must, there sure doesn't seem to be any room in the passenger compartment for extra stuff like that.

I'm pretty sure my son's chair has gel batteries but I'll double check that. Our cruise isn't until January so there's plenty of time. Are there any manufacturers that don't use gel batteries? This is an Invacare chair.

DEL67
August 5th, 2004, 11:06 AM
Paul:

Officially, "newer" planes are supposed to have room for one folding chair somewhere in the cabin, but we have never been able to use it - perhaps because my husband's manual chair is bigger than most because of his height.

When traveling with just his manual chair, we take it to the plane and the airline puts it in the baggage compartment. We check the manual chair with the luggage when traveling with both. Ironically, often both chairs are returned to us at the plane door upon arrival.

When sending the manual chair with the luggage, I either put the leg rests in one of the suitcases or attach them to the chair with a bungee cord. Recently, I have also taped bubble wrap around the arm rests to keep them from getting damaged.