Most people book wheelchairs because they need to and don’t have a choice. There are also some people who are medically capable of the walk from the plane to the luggage carousel but who find it sufficiently daunting to warrant booking a wheelchair.
There are three main codes that can be placed in the booking when a travel agent makes a wheelchair request. The agent will need to ask several questions such as: “Can you climb up and down stairs” and “Do you need assistance once on board”, and so forth.
Here are the main wheelchair requests:
- Wheelchair to aircraft door request – WCHR
- Wheelchair up / down stairs required – WCHS (can walk, but maybe have a leg injury that incapacitates one to climb stairs)
- Wheelchair to seat request – WCHC
You will have to provide the information below as it is required by the airline before they will confirm:
- Your age.
- Can you control your bowel and bladder? (This is asked to determine if you are paraplegic, have an injury, or are incontinent due to being frail.)
- Contact telephone number.
- In certain cases, the airline may request a letter of good health from your GP, stating that you are able to travel by plane. This may be requested at any time prior to airline confirmation.
Wheelchair requests are not guaranteed to be confirmed for operational or policy reasons. (There may for instance be a limited capacity to handle more than a certain number of wheelchair-using passengers on a given flight.) We accordingly strongly recommend against getting the ticket issued on the booking until the wheelchair is confirmed.
If no GP letter is requested, most airlines take between 24 and 48 hours to confirm. If you are booking through a travel agent, they should only have to ask for these details once and then a profile can be built in their GDS (general distribution / reservations system) that automatically makes the request every time a flight is booked, speeding up the process.
If you arrange a wheelchair is on a DIY booking basis then you will likely have to go through the process each time you make a booking.