As the holiday season begins, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) encourages air travelers with disabilities to plan ahead to avoid injuries, damaged wheelchairs, and other common problems.

Air travel issues are the number one complaint Paralyzed Veterans of America hears from its members, it notes.

“For all travelers, the key is planning ahead, and if you have a disability, that’s even more crucial,” says David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, in a media release.

“We suggest calling the airline at least a week before your flight to make special arrangements. Also, take advantage of the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours before your flight to get assistance with security. It also helps to arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight.”

The organization also recommends that travelers with disabilities attach written instructions to wheelchairs and scooters so airline personnel can stow them safely. Most airlines even have forms on their websites that passengers can complete and bring with them on the day of flight. Also, bring a small toolkit with spare parts in case of damage and check in with a flight attendant before landing to discuss exit plans.

PVA offers the following tips for travelers with disabilities:

  • Make airline reservations as early as possible and be specific when discussing needed accommodations.
  • Call the airline a week in advance of flight to confirm special arrangements.
  • Call the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours in advance (855-787-2227) for assistance with security.
  • Arrive at the airport two to three hours ahead of your flight.
  • Attach written instructions for folding and stowing to wheelchairs and scooters.
  • Bring the owner’s manual for your chairs and equipment. Share with airline staff so they can see how to properly dismantle and reassemble your property.
  • Bring any removable parts such as seat cushions, side guards and wheels on the plane with you.
  • Keep all baggage tags and receipts in case an item needs to be tracked.
  • Inspect all equipment carefully upon arrival and immediately report damage before leaving the airport.
  • Bring small toolkit with spare parts in case of damaged equipment.
  • Pack medication and essential medical equipment in a carry-on bag.
  • Check frequently for information on changing laws and resources, and to share your travel story.

[Source(s): Paralyzed Veterans of America, PR Newswire]