Two months ago, in the span of a week, my wheelchair was twice loaded onto a connecting flight without being returned to me.
On the first of those flights, the wheelchair was properly tagged for gate delivery by American Airlines, but on the second, gate agents failed to check any of the boxes on the tag that tells baggage handlers where to deliver the wheelchair.
In both cases, I remained in my seat on the inbound aircraft and required my wheelchair to be offloaded from the connecting flight and returned to me. During layovers, I need my wheelchair to access the bathroom, and under no circumstances will I surrender my independence. Airlines are required to return a passenger’s mobility device “as close as possible to the aircraft door” upon request, and it is a right that I refuse to abrogate.
When I returned from that trip, I realized that I could no longer trust airline tags and needed to create my own. Hoping to replicate my success with the Wheelchair Must Be Loaded Upright tag, I created a high-quality and embroidered “Return Wheelchair to Aircraft Door” tag which is impossible to miss due to its bright yellow color.
The tag is now available in the Wheelchair Travel Shop, and you can pick one up for just $10 plus shipping. If you’d like to get the whole set, I’m running a special promotion — buy the Essential Notification Tags for Wheelchair Travel set, and you’ll get both the Loaded Upright and Return to Aircraft Door tags, plus a WheelchairTravel.org logo tag for just $20 plus shipping. That’s three tags for the price of two!
With these wheelchair tags, I’ve experienced an improvement in the handling of my wheelchair — it has been loaded upright each time, and returned to me in the jet bridge after every flight. While you’ll still need to communicate your expectations to assistance staff in the airport, baggage handlers won’t be able to say they didn’t know what to do when these bright tags are attached to your wheelchair.