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"Packing up" rigid W/C for airplane "hold"

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    Originally posted by SCI_OTR View Post
    I'm not sure how to interpret that, but there is much more to it. Most of my 3,500+ posts are from a kinder gentler time on CC when people came here to help and support one another.
    Internet posts don't always have good continuity. Thoughts can be disjointed and lead to miscommunication. I appreciate your help and certainly didn't mean anything by my post other than an honest question. You said a few simple things can go a long way to preventing damage and you show a picture. There are only two things in the picture that could relate to your comment. One is the sleeve covering the front tubes, which is only cosmetic protection. Your comment about how critical and important the chair is to everyday use implies more than cosmetic damage. It implies structural damage. The only other thing shown in the picture is removing the wheels and keeping them together. Hence, my question. By the way, I like how you do that. What is the device in the hub? Maybe I was I wrong to think that is what you were getting at. I really don't get the significance of the picture otherwise.

    I'm here to help and support.
    Last edited by August West; 3 Aug 2018, 2:42 AM.


      It's ABS rod sanded down to fit the ID of the bearing. Surge handrims were not on the market when I purchased my chair and my Natural Fit pushrims had a glossy finish that was easier to grip than today's finish that had been discontinued.

      Today, if airline staff simply remove the wheels and throw them in the cargo hold or they set them down on the tarmac, the Gription strip would be exposed or the QR axle could get scratched. The ends of the camber tube would also be the first part of the frame to touch the concrete if it was set on its side. As you know, it just takes one minor scratch for an axle to get stuck in an axle sleeve. Because I reinsert the axles in the camber tube and slide a piece of tubular foam over them to keep them inside the camber tube, both axles and frame are protected.

      The system has evolved over the years, but the clamps on the front frame near the footrest combined with the tightly folded backrest (secured with a canopy tarp tie) and push handles keep the front frame and ADI back out of harm's way no matter how they set the frame on the ground. My push handles look the way they do so I can lift the frame while standing and transport my Ossenberg forearm crutches.

      The system itself dictates how people are going to handle my chair. They are probably going to pick it up by the handle clamped to the camber tube instead of the release bar. There is also almost zero chance of my pushrims get damaged.

      Nearly all my flights are to professional conferences where I am presenting on complex rehab technology used by people who have SCI, ALS, or advanced MS. Most of the time, I'm traveling alone. I'm SOL if anything on my chair gets damaged during my trip. If I had to push a loaner that didn't have Surge pushrims and a similar configuration, there would be a significant possibility that I would strain my wrists. I would also be unable to carry my folding crutch on the backrest, my laptop underneath my seat,or pull my luggage behind me.

      No one employed by an airline, airport, shuttle service, or taxi company is even going to think of those things. Because my chair becomes 2 pieces that are packaged to be as compact as possible and carried a certain way, they don't have to.
      Last edited by SCI_OTR; 3 Aug 2018, 1:40 PM.


        Thanks for the explanation. That's all very thoughtful and creative. I noticed the extra hardware in the picture that is not normally seen on wheelchairs. But I thought it was for some purpose other than protection for flights. Because you can stand, you are in a position to assemble your wheelchair as you wish to provide the protection you mention. For others who don't have this option, the best bet remains to get there early enough to have the flight attendants put the wheelchair in the coat closet.

        Unfortunately, that isn't always an option. Connecting flights may have coat closets already full from the previous flight. That means the wheelchair must go in the luggage compartment. I have always left the wheelchair in one piece. As you mention, the wheels are most vulnerable. I have not bothered in the past. But going forward, I may use a wheel case.

        However, doing so has its own risks. Now you have your wheelchair in two pieces. The two can be separated and end up at different destinations, which is even worse than damage. After going through all the possible scenarios in my head, the best option for me personally seems to be leaving my wheelchair in one piece with spoke guards and titanium hand rims.
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          Actually, the only standing I do is getting across the jetway on crutches. I just transfer into an open seat.

          The problem with leaving the wheels on is that it becomes a bulky form factor, someone is going to have to carry down the narrow stairs leading to the tarmac at the end of the jetway, and there may be very little space "to make it fit" in the cargo hold. Many baggage handlers have no idea how much an ultralight costs and treat it no differently than a stroller or walker.


            Do you put all the extra hardware on the chair at home? When do you put the ABS rod into the hubs, cover the camber tubes with the foam guards, and strap the wheels together. The logistics of doing so seem challenging. I don't think I could do all that while sitting in an isle chair. Even if I could it would be awkward and take more time than allowed. They really press you on time.