Will my wheelchair fit on an airplane? What are the dimensions of the cargo hold?

Powered wheelchairs and scooters almost always have to be stored underneath the airplane in the cargo hold. Cargo holds vary in size, based on the aircraft type. Many travelers have been surprised at the airport when they are told that their power wheelchair will not fit. This is a major inconvenience, as it can disrupt your travel plans.

Depending on the size of your wheelchair/scooter, you may need to fold down or recline your backrest in order for it to fit into the hold. Airline personnel can assist you with this, if you bring the tools (typically a small wrench to loosen bolts) with you. A list of aircraft types and the dimensions of their cargo holds can be found below:

Aircraft TypeCargo Door Height (inches)Cargo Door Width (inches)
Airbus A22032″44″
Airbus A31066″104″
Airbus A31948″71″
Airbus A32048″71″
Airbus A32148″71″
Airbus A33066″106″
Airbus A34066.2″107.1″
Airbus A35066″96″
Airbus A38064″67″
ATR 4248.2″25.5″
ATR 7248.2″25.5″
Boeing 71730″35″
Boeing 72744″54″
Boeing 73733″48″
Boeing 74766″104″
Boeing 75744″55″
Boeing 76769″70″
Boeing 77764″101.9″
Boeing 78767″106″
Bombardier CS10032″44″
Bombardier CS30032″44″
Canadair Regional Jet CRJ/CRJ 20043″33″
Canadair Regional Jet CRJ 70033″43″
Canadair Regional Jet CRJ 90033″43″
deHavilland Dash 8-10060″50″
deHavilland Dash 8-30060″50″
deHavilland Dash 8-40060″55″
Embraer EMB 12051″54″
Embraer ERJ 135/14539″39″
Embraer E170 & E17535″43″
Embraer E190 & E19535″43″
Fokker 10035″44″
McDonnell Douglas DC9-5031″51″
McDonnell Douglas MD8028″53″
McDonnell Douglas MD9028″53″
Saab 200051″53″
Saab 340b51″53″
Sukhoi Superjet 100/9535″48″

Should the wheelchair require some minor disassembly to meet the size requirements of the cargo hold, airline staff are obliged to do this for you as per ACAA regulation 14 CFR 382.41 (h), provided you offer written instructions. In practice, staff will perform the disassembly in front of you at check-in or at the aircraft door.

Power wheelchair being loaded into airplane cargo hold using a belt loader

The following conditions are outlined by the ACAA regarding the carriage of a power wheelchair or scooter:

  • Carriers may require that passengers wishing to have battery powered wheelchairs transported on a flight check-in one hour prior to scheduled departure.  § 382.41 (g) (1)
  • If the battery on the wheelchair is labeled as non-spillable by the manufacturer, or if the wheelchair can be loaded, stored, secured and unloaded in an upright position in the cargo hold, the battery does not need to be removed from the wheelchair.  Batteries that appear to be damaged or leaking may be removed and separately packaged by the carrier.  § 382.41 (g) (2)
  • When removing the battery is necessary, carriers must remove and package the battery in carrier-provided packaging, if asked to do so by the passenger.  § 382.41 (g) (3)
  • Folding or collapsible power wheelchairs that can fit into the cabin’s wheelchair stowage area must be stored there if the space is not already occupied by another wheelchair.  § 382.41 (g) (5)

If you aren’t sure how to disassemble your wheelchair, contact your local wheelchair supplier or reach out to the manufacturer. Note that powered wheelchairs with a reclining seatback often require much more significant disassembly. Wheelchairs that cannot fit upright in the cargo hold my be loaded and stored on their side, which is a recipe for significant damage to the wheelchair. Be sure to read my blog post on how to prevent damage to power wheelchairs on airplanes and also the FAQ article, 4 ways to prevent wheelchair damage in air travel.

Even when a power wheelchair will fit upright in the cargo hold, some airline ground crews have been known to tip wheelchairs on their side — it makes loading easier, but guarantees damage to the wheelchair. One last line of defense is the Wheelchair Must Be Loaded Upright tag, which I attach to all of my wheelchairs. You can purchase your own in the Wheelchair Travel Shop.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below, and I will be happy to answer them.