Who couldn’t use a vacation right now?! I know I want one.
If your next getaway involves traveling by air, there are some things you should know before booking as some restrictions have changed. Today, we are going to focus on travelling on a plane with your iBOT® PMD.
- Wheelchairs must be stowed in the cargo bay. The doors for cargo bays vary by aircraft, but the height of a cargo bay door could be as low as 33 inches. Those same doors are generally wider than they are high. So, a wheelchair might need to be less than 33 inches tall to enter the cargo bay door upright on its wheels. This height may be achieved by removing components or folding the back forward, if able. The alternative is for the chair to be placed on its side. Damage is more likely to occur when the chair is not in an upright position and during the process of being laid on its side. How gentle can one be tipping a 300 lb. chair on its side?! With an iBOT® PMD, a 33 inch overall height is achievable, depending on backrest type and configuration. A single post-fold down back is available and uses a quick release lever, no tools required.
- Batteries must be non-spillable (i.e., sealed) and the wheelchair power must be isolated to prevent accidental activation. The iBOT® PMD uses lithium ion batteries which are non-spillable, and they must remain in place on the device when on a plane. The iBOT® PMD batteries meet the criteria in part III, sub-section 38.3 of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria required for airline travel. Drive wheels must have a way to be disengaged (free wheel). The iBOT® PMD has a freewheel release lever on the front, which is clearly marked, so it can be pushed manually. Be sure to show airport personnel how to unlock and lock the freewheel lever.
- Isolate the power. The iBOT® PMD User Controller/joystick is removable with a quick release mechanism and threaded cable connector. Removal of the user controller is required to prevent unintentional activation (accidental power on). The controller and joystick on many other power wheelchairs are two separate components, so a special switch is needed to isolate the batteries. Remove the User Controller before giving your iBOT® PMD to the airline. To decrease risk of damage, it is advised that whenever possible the controller be placed in carry-on baggage.
- Manual lifting points must be labeled. Labels are present on the iBOT® PMD. Be sure to show airport personnel the four manual lifting points. Refer to the Travel section of the user manual.
- A Travel Information Card must be attached to the wheelchair and the unoccupied weight must be listed. The iBOT® PMD user manual includes a page that has all the relevant travel information for you to print out and bring with you. You can locate this information in the Travel section of the manual under Traveling by Air with the iBOT® PMD.
- Wheelchair weight. Some airlines have been imposing weight limits on power wheelchairs, requiring the chair itself be less than 300 lbs. The overall unoccupied weight of the iBOT® PMD is under 300 lbs. (Total Mass 122 kg/269 lbs.) depending on the configuration. If your iBOT® PMD has additional seating components, have it weighed before you travel.
Before arriving at the airport, perform a visual inspection to ensure that the iBOT® PMD reveals no obvious defects, such as loose or damaged batteries or cables. Taking photographs or a video of the chair prior to traveling by air will help identify any damage or loss of components that might have occurred during transport.
Happy and Safe Travels!