Can Walkers Go On Planes

Earl Hamilton
• Wednesday, 23 December, 2020
• 7 min read

If you use a mobility device like a wheelchair, you can request a manual pat-down at airport screening if you cannot walk through the detectors. If you cannot walk a few steps without your cane, advise the airport security screeners who may provide the options of either a manual pat-down, or will return your cane to you after it has been screened, and then you can proceed through airport security screening.

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It is important to notify the airline 48 hours in advance (or earlier) of your needs so that you can be assured of being accommodated. All of this information is important in terms of getting the level of assistance you may need, and when the airline knows in advance, they can have appropriate staff there to help and are required by law to work with you to provide the accommodation.

There are times at the airport when there are unplanned for carry-off situations (when a passenger requires full assistance to be deplaned) and if the staff at the arrival airport isn't aware, it means that passenger can be stuck waiting while the airline scrambles to find staff trained in proper lifting to arrive. Wundervisuals/Getty Images Regardless of your mobility restriction, if you need extra time to get to the aircraft then take advantage of preboarding.

The customer service representative will put a “requires special assistance” note in your reservation record and tell your departure, arrival, and transfer airports to provide a wheelchair. Any possible situation where this may apply will need to go through your health care provider(s) and the airline's medical desk.

All domestic trips allow one carry-on bag plus one personal item per passenger as long as the carry-on bag fits in the sizer and does not exceed overall dimensions requirement which depends on the airlines guidelines. United Airlines also consider it as special items but storage space per aircraft are limited, so you have to advise them upon check-in.

Generally, if your wheelchair or walker is not a collapsible one, they will not be allowed as onboard as they are bulky and need to be stowed safely in the overhead bin. Every person, animal and item that goes onto an airplane must be screened before boarding begins.

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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security officers have found all kinds of strange and potentially dangerous items secreted in wheelchairs and on the passengers who use them, including loaded guns and packages of cocaine. This means that you and your mobility device will need to be screened in some way before you will be allowed to board your airplane.

If you use a scooter or wheelchair and cannot stand for several seconds or walk to and through the advanced imaging technology portal, you will be screened while you are using your mobility device. The pat-down inspection is necessary because neither a metal detector nor a whole body imaging device can be used on a passenger who is seated in a scooter or wheelchair.

You can always ask for a private pat-down inspection; you certainly do not have to go through this process in public if it makes you feel uncomfortable. If you do not wish to discuss your medical condition in front of a large group of people, you can print out a TSA Disability Notification Card at home, fill it out, and hand it to the screening officer when you reach the airport security checkpoint.

You will need to place baskets, saddlebags, wheelchair assembly tools, purses and other carry-on items on the X-ray machine belt. If you need help standing or walking through the screening portal without your walker, tell your security screener and ask for assistance.

The supervisor will provide guidance to the on-duty screening officers to ensure that proper procedures are followed. If you have difficulties going through the screening process because you are on a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watch list, you can contact the One-Stop Travelers' Redress Program at the DHS website to resolve this issue and get a redress control number for future use.

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I've never had to pay extra for gate checked items. They can most likely fit the walker in the closet on the plane (like where they hang the suit coats in first class).

It's just not worth the risk of injury to him, or the inconvenience to the other passengers. I have never seen a person with a walker in a Jetway or on a plane, but I have seen plenty of wheelchairs.

You can arrange these in advance when you check in at the first counter of the trip. Put a name label on it and ask if it can be included in your luggage allowance.

It is a feat of astonishing daring to try to be more than human -- to stand atop wings, melding a body of flesh and plane soaring through the blue. With stunning fearlessness, she can perform aerobatic maneuvers on planes moving at speeds of 165 miles per hour.

Battle works hard to make the art of hanging on for dear life appear effortless. Above the landmark orange towers of the Golden Gate Bridge, she had to endure hurricane force winds and frigid temperatures for the four-hour-and-two minute historic wing walk, while remaining vigilant for an ever-present threat: Ironically, the very creature whose graceful flying inspires her is also one that could cause Battles' death.

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Her grandfather, Larry New, is a pilot who has flown more than 250 types of aircraft, and spends the majority of his flight time in a B-17 plane. “My mom was the one who told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and has supported my journey to becoming a pilot and a wing walker.

At 18, Ashley Battles made her dream of becoming a pilot come true, and for two years it was everything, until she went to an air show and saw a wing walker perform. On that fateful day, Battles also heard about Greg Shelton, considered to be one of the best natural pilots in the area who also happened to be looking for a wing walker.

Equal parts mentor and hero, Shelton has been Ashley's flying partner ever since. It is at the Nosh Hugh Robinson Memorial Airport in Missouri where “20/20” met Battles and Shelton during one of their aerobatic maneuver practice sessions.

It is one thing to hear Battles describe how she'll ride the wings, quite another to watch a 28-year-old woman fly overhead on an aeronautic version of a dragon exhaling white smoke. And at 165 miles per hour in the open wind, imagine a fire hydrant of air being forced on your face while walking the wings of a moving plane.

“Believe it or not, it is very difficult to find something red, white and blue to match the airplane, and that can be used to wing walk in.” Though Ashley's vocation is rare, she does have predecessors -- and these great-grandmothers of wing walking will take everything you thought you knew about gravity and turn it upside down.

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Wing walking began in the 1920s, when unemployed World War I fighter pilots, who missed the adrenaline and needed the income, entertained crowds at air shows. But there were some women who also felt the need for speed, performing for a nation ready for some awe-inspiring feats.

Lillian Boyer dangled from airplanes in 1922 with an easy smile, and just an iron grip on the wing's edge. Gladys Roy could play tennis with a partner on top of a flying plane.

A few years after the iconic tennis photo was taken, the renowned aviatrix was struck and killed by a spinning propeller on the ground. Danger can come to anyone, at any time, in a world of unknowns, but Battles said that she and Shelton take great precautions to stay safe.

The risks notwithstanding, the rewards of an impossibly good life in the sky have made all the difference. I look over the edge of the wing, and I see nothing but bright blues and greens, and to this day, I have not been able to close my eyes,” she said.

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