Sunday, September 6, 2009

iBOT air travel tips

Have you taken your iBOT on an airplane? And if so, how did it go?

A few months after I got my iBOT I went to Disneyland with my daughter, mother, and sister. I wanted to take my iBOT but I was worried about two things.

1. The airlines are notorious for messing up power chairs. I've never traveled with a power chair, but I've read numerous stories about the damage done to other people's chairs. I don't doubt the stories one bit. I know that when I travel with my manual, it often comes back to me not quite the same as it was before I surrendered it to the baggage handlers.

2. Transportation from airport to hotel. The iBOT does not fit in the trunk of taxi cabs.

I debated for a long time about taking my iBOT or my manual. I ended up taking my manual. If I were to do it again, I'd take my iBOT.


I make almost all of my purchases on one credit card. Over the years I've accumalated enough points for 2 free airline tickets to Europe. I'm thinking about taking my daughter to Barcelona during 2010 spring break. I admit that I'm concerned about the airlines breaking the bot, but traveling with the bot is one of the reasons I bought it in the first place.

If and when my daughter and I go to Europe, I'm taking the iBOT.

Honestly, if I didn't have the iBOT, I doubt I would even plan a trip to Europe.

I've been to Europe in a manual chair, but that was when I was in my early 20s and there was always young strong men to help me with any obstacle I might come across. Now that I'm middle aged, the young 'uns ain't so eager to help. At 20 years old, I would be offered help before I knew I needed it. At 39, I often have to ask for it, and the older I get, the less comfortable I am doing that.

If and when we go, I'll also take my manual in case something did happen to the iBOT. Getting to Barcelona with a broken wheelchair and no back-up wouldn't be much fun.

Copied from Independence Technologies here are some air travel tips:

We are providing you with some air travel tips that can help make your exploration to new locations smoother. Preparation is the key to success, so please review the following tips to guide you in your travel.

Notify airlines that you’ll be taking your iBOT® Mobility System and discuss loading/placement on the plane. If asked about the iBOT® Mobility System’s folded dimensions, please provide the following:
Length: 32 - 36 in. (without legrest)
Width: 25 - 29 in (dependent on armrest position)
Height: 44 in (Non-fold flat seat) 29 in (Fold-flat seat)
Approx. Weight: 289 lbs unoccupied
Recommend removing all removable components to prevent damage i.e. leg rests, cushion (if removable), User Control Panel, and place in a separate bag. (Note: Make sure when you are re-attaching the UCP Cable with the UCP, you line up the keyed features between the UCP Cable and the UCP. Once in position rotate the collar a quarter turn to lock the UCP Cable in place.)
It is recommended that you protect any of the plastic components to prevent damage:
UCP Cable- Wrap the connector with bubble wrap and tuck it into the swingarm to protect it.
Back Shroud containing the reflectors and Assist Button-Wrap some foam padding around it to protect from unwanted damage.
Instruct the airline carrier on how to release and engage the brake lever and move the product. Point out the tie-down points for attachment inside the plane. Remember to bring your travel placard along and tape it to the product in order to educate your arrival airport attendants!
If the airlines recommend battery removal, point out the batteries are bolted onto the device, they are NiCad batteries (not lead acid, they are "dry cell"), and they are not operable unless powered ON, which is prevented by removing the UCP.
Depending on your travel location and the terrains you may encounter, it is recommended that you take a few spare tubes and tires. It is better to be prepared.
*One of our world traveler owners reported using an oversized raincoat to wrap around the iBOT® Mobility System to help protect the seat upholstery when in the cargo area of the plane.


Enjoying the Ride said...

I've taken my iBot on an airplane I don't know, maybe 9 times...and have had zero problems. The iBot is so useful on the road, it is a pitty to leave it at home. Almost all cities have wheelchair accessible taxis- van taxis that actually take you in your chair from aiport to hotel or whatever your destination.

I take the foot rests and user control panel with me onto the plane, and put in overhead storage. I duct tape some bubble wrap around the area where my UCP did sit, to cover up the open cable nicely. I flip my setback down, and I hand over the keys, so to speak, to the airline. I make sure I meet and great the people who are doing the loading, and explain to them how important it is that they handle with care.

Oh, one more thing. I made up a custom placard a little like the one that Independence Technology provides, except my placard has my cell phone number on it so they can call me with any questions. Nobody has done that yet.

I carry a spare tire and tube in my luggage. I've not suffered any iBot damage on any of my trips so far. The iBot really travels quite well I think.

Shannon said...

Great to hear! Thanks for replying.

Chekoala said...

Hey shannon

Just found your website via Herrad's. Ever since seeing an Dean Kamen being interview by Isabella Rosellini one night I have been fascinated by the iBot, so really please to discover your log and hear yr experiences with it.
I find it astounding that it is the exception rather than the norm in wheelchair technology and most disappointed to learn that J&J have stopped production on it.

Hope you get that O/s trip booked soon!
much cheer

WheelchairPride said...

Shannon: I would not go to Barcelona without having transporation organized there before you go. I do not think you can assume that upon arrival you are going to find a wheelchair accessible taxi.

I live in Europe. It is getting better, slowly. But the more south you go, the less accessible it tends to be. I can not say for sure about Barcelona, but I just would not count on it.

Also, make sure your IBOT is fully insured for possible damages on the plane. By the airline or your insurance company. It would be a pity if it were damaged there.

Herrad said...

Came by to say hello and wish you a good Halloween weekend.