Wheelchair Check In At Airport

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76 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
We have decided to purchase a transport wheelchair for our cruise to Alaska.

It'll be brought along as a backup for my MIL. She has had numerous surgeries recently and we expect by the evening she will probably be too tired to navigate the big ship.

Going out we will have a short connection in Chicago (O'Hare), involving two terminals. Instead of risking the chair being the last item out of the gate check area, we would check the chair in at the beginning and pick it up at our final destination. As I have taken this same flight before, we are comfortable she will be able to navigate getting to the two terminals as long as we do not get delayed trying to get things out of the gate check area.

Secondly can anyone recommend a transport/tote bag for the wheelchair. I don't think they normally come with a wheelchair.

Thanks for your help
76 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Realized I forgot to ask my first question in my previous post.

Is is a good idea/bad idea to check the wheelchair all the way through both flights and not gate check it?
6,583 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by bbgran190
Realized I forgot to ask my first question in my previous post.

Is is a good idea/bad idea to check the wheelchair all the way through both flights and not gate check it?
With checking it all the way thorugh as luggage there's always the risk of it not arriving at the final destination given that it's not a direct flight. Also by doing so it's placed at greater risk for getting damage.

If it were me I would gate check it. I always gate check my walker and really don't have to wait all that long for it at the gate.
Alexandria, KY, USA
137 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
We have found gate check to be far better for us. Others may not agree and prefer check through. Chicago assistance has been inconsistent for us. Usually excellent, but sometimes none is available. The distance to and from the gates can be very long, and sometimes no seats are available at the gate. I guess we are somewhat control freaks.
Moon Township, Pa
23,173 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
I totally agree with xxoo. I gate check my scooter and they're usually very quick with bringing it up to the jetway. But, how short a connection do you have at ORD? That airport is huge, crowded and can take forever if you have to change terminals. If you have less than an hour, you may have a problem.

One thing you can do is still gate check the wheelchair but take one of their golf carts to your next gate. They were able to hang my mom's wheelchair on the cart and we sped off to our next gate.
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340 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
First off is it a transport chair or a wheelchair these are two different types of chairs!!! Transport chair is 4 smaller wheels wheelchair is 2 big wheels 2 little wheels.

Either way I'd say gate check it less chance of damages and might even come in handy carrying bags from one terminal to the other. Only issue is you'll be one of the last off.

Not sure what type of planes you'll be on but if you have a wheelchair sometimes they allow it to be stowed in the closet onboard and not in the belly if its small enough - never hurts to ask I always do and 75% of the time its no problem.

As for bags I personally just use a standard backpack

Final Note:
Depending what ship you'll be on you might find a transport chair to be more of a pain to push than a wheelchair with hallways being rugs. - just a word of caution
Hotlanta GA
881 Posts
Joined Aug 2007
Another vote for gate checking. It really is no problem at all, and she will have the security of the chair in transit. If she doesn't want or need it, it's a good luggage cart that you can take all the way to the plane ;-)

Most transport chairs I've looked at do come with a bag, so check around on that. But if you just keep it in service, it won't really need a bag.
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Coastal North Carolina
5,499 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
I agree with the gate checking. It will make your trek across O'Hare easier, plus you can wheel her to the door of the plane, and the chair will be put in the hold from there. It will be waiting just outside the plane on the jetway when you get off the plane.

We did that with my husband several times and found it the best way to go.

Also, I'm also not sure if you really want a transport chair that has limited useage or a full size wheelchair. Think about long term use as well as short term in making that decision.
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Cape May Court House, NJ
395 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
I have travelled with my mother in a wheel chair for over a decade. We always have to wait, almost until all onboard have left, before her chair is brought up from the hold; this is on almost every flight we have ever taken. Occasionally, the chair is there when we leave the aircraft. If you have to hurry to board the next plane, consider that you might need to wait for the chair. (Also, airlines prefer people using wheelchairs to wait until other have left the plane, so that you can take you time getting off and into the chair. Some push ahead anyway, without abiding by this request.)

As for the chair on a ship, the transport chair will be much more difficult to move about on carpets. It would be better to get a quality, light-weight wheel chair. The one my mother has can be pushed and turned with one hand (mine, of course).

Regardless, enjoy the trip and the travel.
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858 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
We usually gate check my wheelchair when we have no plane changes but if we are changing planes we baggage check mine and use the airport wheelchairs in the airport. We fine that sometime changing plans entails a lot of manuvering, out of the way paths to get to elevators and long walks. With one of the airport people (who knows where to go and how to get there) pushing we safely make it to the next gate.
Wayne, MI, USA
2,955 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Be sure to let your airline know that she is in a wheelchair so they can make arrangements to get her quickly to the next gate.
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