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  • Permobil airline prep

    Hi, I recently received a Permobil F3. I've had Invacare chairs in the past, and when I've taken the chair on an airplane (to be stowed underneath), I've always removed the armrests and joystick. However, there does not seem to be a quick/easy way to do that with a Permobil chair, which I believe makes them very prone to being damaged. What do others do?

  • #2
    I recently flew out of Pittsburgh to get to Miami. My brother pointed out to the airline staff how fragile the joy stick and arm rests are. I also tried to remind them they were basically handling my legs once I was not in the chair. I think the only thing that accomplished was to make myself feel better. I would suggest keeping some of the tools that you got from Permobil with your checked luggage. I have always had that brand of wheelchair. The only complaint I have, is that the arm rests are very difficult to adjust and are very easily moved. Good luck and have a safe trip.

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    • #3
      We travel a lot and what works for us is to give yourself time and not be rushed. We see people taking more parts and things off there chairs then needed.

      When you get to the ticket counter get your pre board documents then ask for a "ramp supervisor" vs a ramps opps agent that only boards passengers.

      The ramp supervisor is in charge of the ground crew that will be loading the chair.

      Explain to the him or her how your chair works, free wheels and any instructions that will help them.

      With Permobil or any chair you really do not need to pull the armrest off but inform them not to lay your chair on its side because it can crush the armrest tubes and mounting hardware based on its own weight.

      Sometimes by explaining cause and effect it helps them understand "whys"

      Side note we do take off my headrest and store it in the over head compartment. That extra height taken off makes it much more easy to fit in tighter cargo doors.

      What is cool with F series is the swing a way joy stick should swing both ways. So you can swing the joysitck all the way in to the inside armrest once you get out of the chair.

      Last explain to them dont to lift from the armrest and they dont offer support for lifting your chair on to the conveyor belt.

      Also the Permobil brand is simple to adjust the armrest height if needed and the tool is in your backrest.

      Hope this helps! Happy Travels...

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      • #4
        We made this years ago for those that might feel intimidated with air travel.

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        • #5
          Thank you both for your feedback.

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          • #6
            I just returned from a short vacation to Florida. I wasn't ready to bring my Permobil F3 yet because I was hesitant to risk damage to the new chair, so I used my Invacare Torque 3. As I mentioned above, we remove the controller, armrests, and legrests. The chair is manually pushed by airport staff to the cargo area of the plane. Which brought me to another question. The Permobil is SIGNIFICANTLY heavier then my Torque 3, and I can't imagine them being manually able to push the chair up the slope of the gangway. So do most let them use the controller to operate the chair??

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            • #7
              That's to bad..because you have a state of the art chair that I am sure your getting use to and then revert back to the old chair that gives a much harsher ride.

              Rememeber the luggage carrier act is on your side,
              luggage carrier act covers you and anyone else that has damage to their luggage and or you chair.

              Airlines are ususllay very apologetic and very proactive if one has damage and do there best to get it fixed while on your trip or when you return.

              Taking the joystick off I think is total over kill, but with the F3 you can just swing the joystick in to the seat back if that makes you feel more comfortable.

              Most airlines use lift systems that lift your chair on to the conveyor belt to load in to the cargo area.

              I have had six flights this month and not one damage yet.

              Hope you take another trip soon and have faith in the system!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RollPositive View Post
                That's to bad..because you have a state of the art chair that I am sure your getting use to and then revert back to the old chair that gives a much harsher ride.

                Rememeber the luggage carrier act is on your side,
                luggage carrier act covers you and anyone else that has damage to their luggage and or you chair.

                Airlines are ususllay very apologetic and very proactive if one has damage and do there best to get it fixed while on your trip or when you return.

                Taking the joystick off I think is total over kill, but with the F3 you can just swing the joystick in to the seat back if that makes you feel more comfortable.

                Most airlines use lift systems that lift your chair on to the conveyor belt to load in to the cargo area.

                I have had six flights this month and not one damage yet.

                Hope you take another trip soon and have faith in the system!
                Thanks! But do you have them manually push the chair from the plane door to wherever it is loaded, or let them use the joystick? The chair is a beast to push on flat surface. I can't imagine pushing it up the gangway.

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                • #9
                  I took my Permobil m300 into the office where I get weighed. I was in my old chair and we needed to get the weight of the new chair without me in it. The m300 with tilt, recline, and elevation, Roho Agility Mid Contour back system and cushion weighed in at 414 pounds. My Invacare TDX-SP weighs 365 and even at that was nearly impossible to push.

                  "Roll Positive,"

                  Do you transfer to a boarding chair at the gate or at the check in before security?

                  I know the gate supervisor will send messages to the gate supervisor/crew at your destination, but I've not had great luck with these messages either getting to where they need to go or being read by the recipient. I can't tell you how many times, I have just sat on the plane after landing, waiting for someone to retrieve my manual chair at baggage claim and bring it back to the plane, when it was made clear to the ground crew at departure that the arrival crews needed to bring my manual chair to the gate. With the power chair, it just seems like there is a lot more screw up potential.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by landrover View Post
                    Thanks! But do you have them manually push the chair from the plane door to wherever it is loaded, or let them use the joystick? The chair is a beast to push on flat surface. I can't imagine pushing it up the gangway.
                    That is a great question...I always advise people to get there a little early and ask for the ramp supervisor vs the opps agent is the person who takes your ticket and guides you to the plan. Ramp supervisor is the one in charge of the crew that will physical loads you chair.

                    The ramp supervisor is the one person who is going to be your best friend for the next hour! So by showing him how your chair works, free wheels, all the specifics that will help them load it faster they really enjoy it.

                    We have talked to so many supervisors and ground crew that tell us the majority of chair users just leave the chair for them to figure all this out and it delays the loading and take off.

                    If you understand the flight industry they are fined for leaving late so to push a 300 lb or now a 400 lb chair to the elevator which may be on the other side of the terminal I let them walk it with power or even ride it or push it I leave it up to them!

                    If they ride it I just slow it down a little.

                    The trust factor is big with us and I think its the reason we dont have issues is they have a face and personality now with the chair vs just another chair to load.

                    Some will tell you they prefer to push the chair, others will smile and ride and give us a big thank you, my Wife is an expert and walking next to it and guiding it with the joystick so she has shown them how to walk next to it using the chair power and some really like doing that option.

                    One thing I push others to make sure your specific on not loading it on its side show them how to lower the seat back as it helps make it fit though the cargo doors. Plus dont fly it on its side as it damages the wheels hubs and paint and breaks arm rest.

                    Hope that helps!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gjnl View Post
                      I took my Permobil m300 into the office where I get weighed. I was in my old chair and we needed to get the weight of the new chair without me in it. The m300 with tilt, recline, and elevation, Roho Agility Mid Contour back system and cushion weighed in at 414 pounds. My Invacare TDX-SP weighs 365 and even at that was nearly impossible to push.

                      "Roll Positive,"

                      Do you transfer to a boarding chair at the gate or at the check in before security?

                      I know the gate supervisor will send messages to the gate supervisor/crew at your destination, but I've not had great luck with these messages either getting to where they need to go or being read by the recipient. I can't tell you how many times, I have just sat on the plane after landing, waiting for someone to retrieve my manual chair at baggage claim and bring it back to the plane, when it was made clear to the ground crew at departure that the arrival crews needed to bring my manual chair to the gate. With the power chair, it just seems like there is a lot more screw up potential.
                      Boy your m300 is heavy my F3 is 425 lb but its all good. The reason the weight is asked is because they try and balance the weight with in the cargo area.

                      A lot of passengers dont know most airlines make more money in business cargo that is flying below.

                      How we load is I roll my chair in to the jet way then on to the plane and with the front wheel drive I can turn so I am facing the isle and my Wife is able to help me transfer.

                      On trips where she is tired or we have a lot of carry on I will use a isle chair and they the opps agents will left me in to the seat then they will back out the chair.

                      The trick is when you check in that agent should be giving you a tag and tag your chair to "bring to the gate tag"

                      Before you land tell the flight attendants to radio the ground crew and make sure that chair is brought back up when you land.

                      Vs landing and they forgot, be proactive they have access to contact the ground crew while flying.

                      By the way we flew a lot with my m300 its a tank never had any damage or shroud damage to the paint!

                      I dont use a wheelchair so never had that experience, but I know a lot in our community over think and worry. Not to say things dont happen but with a little preparedness and not be rushed damage is minimal and always fixable free from the airlines.

                      A side note we have flown 2 power chairs from Phx to NYC and San Diego a lot because one is a normal daily chair m300 or now F3 and then an offroad chair x5 for beach use in Coney Island or beach towns in California!

                      Plus have fought with Supershuttle now only charges us for one van vs 2!
                      Last edited by RollinPositive; 01-30-2017, 02:27 PM.

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                      • #12
                        "Roll Positive", I certainly appreciate your optimism re: flying, and having laws to protect against damage, but that does not much comfort when you arrive to your vacation destination that you've planned months in advance, to find your chair has been damaged and your plans suddenly change. I've only flown 6 times since my accident, and twice had damage to my chair, and it was not due to lack of preparation or discussion with airline staff.

                        I am having trouble seeing how you are able to roll your chair onto the plane, and then transfer. The several flights I've taken most recently there has been a height difference between the jetway and plane entrance, so there was no way I would be able to drive onto the plane. Last year thanks to rewards points I was able to upgrade to business class from JFK to SFO on an AA321T, which has the lay flat seats. The aisle is wide, where I thought it possible to be transferred directly from my chair to seat. Unfortunately again the entrance height between jetway and plane was too great. Even so, the gate rep made it sound like even if I could've driven my chair onto the plane to then be transferred, they wouldn't allow it.

                        Interesting that you give them the option of using the joystick. Especially with the F3 having the ability to turn the controller inward, do you trust that they will flip it in themselves?

                        Finally, interesting about the x5. I had come close to purchasing an x8 several years ago, but had wondered how I would take it anywhere. It may be even heavier then the F3!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Have to agree with "landrover." I admire your optimism and faith in airline policy and personnel. But, I'm just not as sanguine as you are, "Roll Positive." Flying with a manual chair was always a nail biter. But, flying with a power chair ties my stomach in knots.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I cant tell you how many times I talk to people at the airport or on a plane that see us load, unload, get luggage, even get a cab... there questions are pretty much the same...how, what and where can you travel with a power chair.

                            Everyone seems to know someone that have talked themselves out of traveling for the same reasons.

                            Worried about damage, not understanding that the airlines are really there to help not hinder our community.

                            The 1st years it was a struggle but we worked close with Southwest corporate in ways to mitigate damage and improve the customer experience.

                            We have been traveling successful for 18 years and I think the last damage we had was 6 + years ago on a flight to Las Vegas with my x5 they sheared the armrest off then brought the chair to the jet way and said" Did you fly with these off?

                            What happen was the agent was to busy and didnt listen that the chair was to ride to fit through the jetway door and shoved it though and off came the armest!


                            So they had a cab take us to a DME by the airport and with in 2 hours it was fixed free of charge.

                            So I get what your saying how damage can mess up a trip but the memories of the trip far out way any repairs.

                            I think one of the best stories is with a friend here HACKNSACK he and his Wife to be reached out to me they planed to get married and wanted to go on a honeymoon to Las Vegas so we worked out a plan, they had my phone number in case if any issues and next thing I know I see pictures of he and his Wife on board read for Las Vegas!!

                            Did they have a few issues they did but not damage but if you ask them I bet there memories of a great trip out weighed the challenges they had on the plane.

                            Landrover before the F3 I had a m300, then before that a Pride Edge(junk) even the x5 as big as it is rolls on to the plane then turns semi right with the F3 allowing me to turn the full 90 degrees.

                            We lift the armrest up on the seat and my chair and my Wife helps me pivot to the 1st seat.

                            One I am there she helps me move over to the window ( I have had people with luggage hit me or luggage fall out of the over head.

                            Once I am in and comfortable she backs my chair out and the ramp supervisor takes it.

                            When its loaded they will come back up and let us know or thumps up if we are watching.

                            We always remind them to radio ahead to bring it to the gate and to relay how they loaded it.

                            The biggest help is not to be rushed, work with the ground crew and then relax and let them do the work.

                            Landrover I make sure we show that specific person how the joystick moves in to the inside part of the chair, we show them how the seat back leans back with the buttons, we show him how to free wheel and have them repeat the steps to us.

                            Once in a blue moon if they are rushed they dont listen so we stop and say..Hey I dont think your listening and thats a problem and here is why.

                            Have to be assertive because this is where damage happens.

                            On your two trips what damage did you have and did you report it when it happen. That is the key to getting it fixed fast.


                            GJNL Take s short trip and try it, it might put your mind at easy.

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                            • #15
                              I've technically taken 12 flights, damage on 2. The first was years ago, on a return flight. I didn't notice until already home. It appears the chair may have been dropped, which bent the axle of the chair. The other was on my most recent trip. They either purposely disconnected some wires, or did so by accident, but regardless the chair was in "drive lock-out" because it thought the chair was tilted back too far, although it wasn't.

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