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Ramp Van Rental Warning_Phoenix Area

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    Ramp Van Rental Warning_Phoenix Area

    I'm putting this out as a warning to anyone that may be traveling to the Phoenix area with plans to rent a ramp van.

    DO NOT rent from Wheelers in Phoenix. They dropped off the most broke ass van to drive down to Tucson from Sky Harbor I've ever driven. This craptastic rental turned out to be a 2005 Chevrolet Uplander with 170,000 miles on it and was beat to hell. The passenger window kept falling down a crack, the backend sounded like something was going to fall off with the smallest of bumps and the suspension was non-existent. The second day we had it we were unable to start it at all and the hassles from that experience with a power chair you can only imagine.

    I seriously do not understand how they can, in good conscience, rent this van out to wheelchair users looking to rent a ramp van.

    Sorry to hear of this unfortunate experience.

    What other options do you have for renting a wheelchair accessible van out of Phoenix Sky Harbor? If you flew into Tuscon International, would you have better luck? I understand you may not have great connections from where you live to Tucson.


      Broken down equipment could also cause a life threatening situation in the hot desert. I guess the best thing to do is to clarify what year, and mileage on the vehicle before renting.


        The company we used to rent from was sold so we went with this other company. I have another company to use next time but having this problem did get us thinking of other options. So that is good.

        The non-stop flights from Minneapolis to Tucson are on Delta and they currently fly MD90's for that route. The size of the cargo door of the MD90 would prohibit her powerchair going in on its wheels so we fly in/out of Phoenix with our daughter on our hometown carrier, Sun Country. (Sun Country gates are at the small Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor which is nice too.) Coincidentally, yesterday Sun Country announced they will start non-stop service to Tucson this fall. They fly 737's so this is good news! Problem solved!


          Why not fly Southwest out in to Tuscon? Did you contract Wheelers for compensation ?

          Ablity Center does WC rental in Tuscon

          Another option is it can sometimes be cheaper to fly in to bigger cities so fly to Phoenix rent your van with more company's that service Phoenix and then drive to Tuscon.

          Its about 2 hour drive 116 miles.

          But the cheaper fares make up for paying extra mileage on the van rental.

          FYI Take a cab to the van rental pick up and delivery and by pass the $125+ service charge x2 Wheelchair van rental company's sometimes charge.


            Hi RP- Yes, we did receive a partial refund from Wheelers. We already have a van on reserve in August from A1 in Phoenix and one of us will take the cab/Uber to pick it up just north of the airport. We prefer non-stop flights and the non-stops between Minneapolis/Tucson don't start until the end of October on Delta. (See above for why we are not flying that flight with the powerchair.) Gosh, it only takes us 80-minutes to drive between the airport and our exit in Tucson. (Speed limit is 75 so we're moving at a pretty good clip)

            Thanks for help and the additional resources it is just awesome! As you can tell we are already planning her return to campus!


              I am local in Phx so if you need any help let me know...campus...UofA? Mind if I ask who told you about her chair not making it in the cargo doors?? What kind of chair and does she have tilt and recline?

              My Wife and I fly monthly and I dont recall my chair not fitting in any plane. MD90 looks like a standard plane also.

              We fly elusive Southwest and have worked with SW Tx management teams in customer service training and sensitivity. So I can tell you when it comes to ground crews for most airlines your the expert and you have to tell and show them in advance how to load a chair and how to make it fit.

              Including lowering the seat back down to fit, removing the headrest can give 6-12" extra room or have your DME do a tilt forward set up so her seat can lean forward for travel mode.

              I have had ground crews from other airlines argue with me that my chair will not fit and have even been on the tarmac a few times showing how to make it fit.

              Just a FYI I show SW flights our of St Paul to Tuscon for $86 each way and none stop in Aug...

              One other option one can save big money is to rent a standard van with stow and go and use a suite case style ramp you can fly with them free.

              But it requires your daughter to transfer in to a standard seat and then load her chair by hand manually.

              We did it in Maui with a wind surfer fan. We laugh now but it saved us $500 we where able to put to our vacation.

              Make sure to use social media and report Wheelers on there FB page

    , TripAdvisor, Google reviews etc they are a franchise and that is shameless that anyone would rent a van like that.

              August in Phoenix you all are a brave family you get my respect!

              Message me if I can help or provide WC travel "hacks"...


                Yes, she goes to UA. Hard to believe she will start her junior year this August! She rocks a Permobil F5 VS. We also have a manual with power assist for her that is purely a back up chair. I do wish she used it more but it is not my choice.

                We got the tip on the cargo doors for various planes from a pilot and a local PVA rep. It is pretty easy to check the cargo door dimensions of the MD90. Tiny compared to a 737. We totally get the chair ready for any plane by tilting it all the way forward and taking the back off the chair. (She doesn't use a headrest.)

                I will totally post about the Wheelers experience. I do have a TripAdvisor account, Yelp and everywhere else I can think of. The Wheelers network is a great idea. I find it hard to believe they are ok with weak links.

                Love your resourcefulness with Maui! Comes with the territory doesn't it?! I hope our daughter will take more chances along the way and get out of her comfort zone. She plays it pretty safe right now.

                Thanks again for all the great tips!


                  Not an expert but looks like the width is 28" vs 35" wide and height seems the same at 58"?

                  I would never take the chair apart as it just adds risk if parts get loss and or broken.

                  What we do is get there a little early and ask for the ramp supervisor vs the opps agent.

                  The ramp supervisor is in charge of the team loading it. We show him or her how the chair works, seat tilts, freewheels etc.

                  By them understanding it helps in problem solving and the have faces to go with the chair so seems to be they they take more care.

                  On the F series the we push the joystick swing a way all the way in to the seat back so less chance of it getting damaged.

                  At worse if it was to small of a cargo door if it went in on the side it still should fit and fly wheels down.

                  I would call the airline corp office and have them find out for sure and be 100%

                  Pilots really are not the best source.

                  Yeah hacks are great money and time savers when traveling with power chairs!