The US Department of Transportation classifies rollators as assistive devices. So most airlines will allow the passengers to travel with a rollator. Thanks to the special rules set by the authority that allows assistive equipment to be taken along in the flight to support people with disabilities.
Although you can travel with a rollator, it can still be daunting if you fly with this device for the first time. If you belong to this group, then there are a few things you need to know. They’re mostly about the procedures and rules regarding getting it onboard or gate-checked. Keep reading the article to learn more about how you can travel with a rollator conveniently.
Traveling with a Rollator for Yourself or Someone Else
Let’s bring in two scenarios that can occur while traveling with a rollator. Although most air carriers will allow you to carry a rollator, two different instances can occur based on who’s carrying the rollator and for whom. Let’s take a look at both these instances below:
Carrying for Yourself
Generally, if someone needs a rollator to take in the flight for their own need, they’ll most likely ask for special assistance from the authority while boarding the plane. In such cases, the authority shall assist you and allow you to board the plane through a special entrance.
Carrying for Somebody Else
If you need to carry a rollator for someone else while traveling, you can generally do that by paying the costs attached to it because it’s not for you. Based on the measurements, the concerned authority will consider it either a piece of hand luggage or hold luggage. The rollators are mostly considered as a piece of hold luggage since they measure greater than 100x75x65 cm.
Different Methods to Fly with a Rollator
There are three methods or strategies for traveling with a rollator. We’ve seen two instances above, but here we’ll talk about a detailed procedure for taking the rollator along with you on the plane.
Take the Rollator Onboard
It’s a quite straightforward option. If your rollator folds small and narrow enough to fit your carry-on luggage, you can easily take it onboard inside the cabin and keep it in the overhead storage. There are quite a few traveling rollators that’ll meet this requirement.
But you still have options even if the rollator is larger than the carry-on or doesn’t fit the overhead compartment. The airlines will provide you with a storage location for mobility aids like rollators or wheelchairs. Luckily, it’s available on most planes.
If you miss out on the dedicated storage because something is already occupying the place, don’t lose heart. Then the staff should help you store it in the cargo compartment. But you’ve to retrieve your rollator from the gate in such an instance and not from the baggage claim.
Not necessarily all airlines will offer such storage options; instead, they can ask you to gate-check the rollator walker. We’ll find out what’s that.
The next option allows you to gate-check the rollator before boarding your plane. It’s probably the most conveninet option for anyone who relies on a rollator for walking. You can use the rollator throughout the airport in this method and get it checked only before boarding. You can even use its seat to carry other carry-on items.
After arriving at the boarding gate, you’ve to inform them that you have a gate-check item: a rollator. You should also get priority and have a gate-check tag to help the authority identify the item’s owner. Once you board, the staff will take the rollator and take care of it throughout the flight. They will even have it waiting until you come down from the plane. The standard outdoor rollators will fall in this category.
But make sure to remind the staff about your final destination or whether you have a connecting flight to catch. If you don’t remind the staff, they may assume that you’ll be picking up the rollator from the baggage claim. You won’t like that as it’s usually a long walk away.
Check the Rollator with the Other Luggage
The final method to take a rollator while traveling is to check the rollator along with the other luggage after arriving at the airport. But that’ll leave you to walk unassisted if you’re the one who uses the rollator. Nevertheless, there’re a couple of solutions for that. You can take the airport wheelchair assistance or look for assistive shuttle transport.
But there’ll still be some potential risks, such as the chance of the rollator going missing or getting damaged. Besides, you’ll have to look for walking assistance from time to time, like between the connecting flights or from the airplane to the baggage claim.
Other Tips for Traveling with a Rollator Walker
Check out a few more tips below to help you conveniently travel with the rollator.
- Ask the gate agent for a seat to rest during the security checking of your rollator.
- If you’re carrying it for personal use, you generally don’t have to pay any fees since it’s classified as an assistive device.
- Make sure that the rollator isn’t counted towards your bag limit.
- You should check the website of the major airlines to learn about the specific policies for assistive devices. And for general information and policies of the US Department of Transportation regarding the assistive device, you can check here.
- If you’re carrying the rollator in luggage, pack securely and tag correctly to avoid loss or damage to your item.
When it comes to notifying the airlines’ authority about traveling with a rollator in advance, it’s not required legally. However, we think it’s smart to do that. If they know that you’re traveling with a rollator, which is also classified as an assistive device, they can make the right arrangements for you.
Also, you won’t have to struggle with the storage or any assistance required while boarding the plane. So make sure to inform them in advance and opt for the gate-check method to enjoy the maximum convenience.
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