Travelling when you have limited accessibility can seem restricted at first. But equipped with the right powered wheelchair, users can unlock greater independence and freedom of movement, especially when they’re preparing for a holiday. With these expert tips from LITH TECH, electric wheelchair users can learn to feel more confident about holidaying with their chosen mobility device.
An Accessible Wheelchair Travel Guide
When it comes to traveling with a powered wheelchair, accessibility issues can be challenging. Obstacles can range from difficulties with your wheelchair, to anxieties regarding how far it can travel, and whether your destination is safe and compatible for those with restricted mobility.
It’s common for wheelchair users or their carers to question how practical travelling will be, and whether they can make the journey feel comfortable for everyone. This means planning where you travel to, and how you plan on travelling (whether that’s by car, plane, or another method).
As part of your preparations, you should consider the best mobility device. The design, weight, level of comfortable, ground clearance, foldability, and battery type will all impact how you travel with a wheelchair.
If you plan on travelling by plane, for example, you will need to anticipate that your electric wheelchair is both lightweight and operates on flight safe batteries. Not all wheelchairs are flight safe, and the Civil Aviation Authority (or CAA) specifies which batteries are compliant, along with carry-on luggage allowances.
LITH-TECH Recommends: Using a travel bag when flying, as this provides extra protection for your wheelchair in an aeroplane.
How Far Can You Travel in Wheelchair?
Often when holidaying, a wheelchair user will ask how far they can expect to travel. Range anxiety in an electric wheelchair is not only limited to its battery power, but the weight, design, and other features. The frequency of use, where it’s operated, including the kinds of environments and surfaces, and other factors can influence how far you can travel in a chair.
When it comes to battery range, typical powerchairs will reach eight miles per charge. Comparatively, LITH TECH electric wheelchairs can vary in range, from 10 miles upwards, reaching 15 miles per charge at a time. The LITH TECH Carbon Fibre Electric Wheelchair, for example, charges in only five to six hours, and can reach 16 miles per charge at a time.
Your travels will be impacted by the model and design of electric wheelchair that you plan on using regularly. For the most comfortable, enjoyable journey, start with a quality electric wheelchair.
Flight compliance is an easily overlooked challenge for those with restricted mobility. Airlines often regulate the kinds of wheelchairs that are permissible on flights, and what you can include within your carry-on.
Electric wheelchairs are regulated by airlines differently, which means that you will need to research the specific requirements before boarding your flight. If your electric wheelchair does not comply with air travel regulations, such as unsafe battery types that exceed regulated outputs, then airlines will offer you a generic chair replacement.
As flight compliance checklist includes:
- Battery type
- Accessories (which are limited two items per traveller)
- The dimension and design of your wheelchair
- An insurance policy for your mobility device
Flying with wheelchair batteries safely
Do I need to advise airlines of my battery powered wheelchair?
According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), users with wheelchairs and mobility aids powered by lithium batteries must first advise the airline of the type of batteries powering the aid, and how this device ‘can be protected against inadvertent operation’.
Where should batteries be stored when flying?
If the batteries cannot suitably be protected against accidental operation, whether that is by not being able to remove the joystick module or separate the power cable plugs or connectors, for example, then you must:
- Remove the battery in accordance with manufacturer’s instruction
- Carry battery in the cabin
- Ensure that the battery must not exceed 300 Wh
- Ensure that the battery terminals are protected from short circuit (e.g., by insulating terminals)
- Protect the battery from any damage during the flight (such as in our detachable bag)
Are spare batteries allowed?
The CAA advise that one spare battery that doesn’t exceed 300 Wh or two spare batteries that don’t exceed 160 Wh may be carried additionally. Any spare batteries must be carried in the cabin.
You can find all the necessary information on wheelchairs powered by Non- spillable Acid or Alkali batteries and Spillable Acid or Alkali batteries through the CAA too.
Do different airlines have different rules?
While airlines must comply with the safety requirements of the CAA, there may be slight variations in their policy when it comes to safe flying with battery powered wheelchairs and storing your wheelchair. For example, easyJet will not carry spillable batteries but British Airways will permit this as long as all regulations are met.
To ensure safety and compliance when travelling by plane, make sure to contact with your airline before you fly.
When you’re planning on travelling with your wheelchair, whether long haul or shorter distances, consider the coverage of your insurance policy and whether it includes your electric wheelchair. Insuring your wheelchair is critical because, without an up-to-date policy, any damage to your wheelchair could leave you with costly repairs or replacements. Insurance provides more than just ongoing protection, but reassurances that your wheelchair is covered if any damage should happen.
All LITH TECH wheelchair customers – whether past, present, or new – have the option to apply for 12-month insurance with Fish, covering you from costly damage or mistakes, like public liability, or lost or stolen goods.
Electric wheelchair – best features for travel
- Ground Clearance – this describes the space between the base of a wheelchair, and the ground. Having excellent ground clearance means that your wheelchair can navigate more easily tougher or more challenging terrains, include where the ground is raised.
- Customised comfort – increasingly, more advanced electric wheelchairs can customise the level of comfort of the end user, including adjustable padding options, and extra storage.
- Tyres – depending on your model, certain wheelchairs offer better grip and control, especially when travelling across difficult terrains. Even puncture-proof tyres, which are optimal for travel, can be equipped to more advanced models, helping the user get the most movement out of their wheelchair.
Expert Help with Accessible Wheelchair Travel
If you’re planning on travelling, and you want to feel comfortable and confident in your mobility device, make sure your electric wheelchair is up to the challenge. This means researching the best accessories and models to travel with, ensuring you get the most from your electric wheelchair.
Accessible wheelchair travel starts with the user. Choosing the best powerchair for the job can help you feel confident. Get in touch if you need advice about finding the right electric wheelchair to suit all your needs.