EgyptAir is the flag carrier of Egypt and a partner of United Airlines, by virtue of its membership in Star Alliance. I have flown with EgyptAir on several occasions, traveling within Africa and the Middle East. In this article, I’ll describe what readers can expect as a wheelchair user traveling with EgyptAir — including booking, check-in, boarding and arrival.
Tickets & Booking
EgyptAir tickets can be purchased via the EgyptAir website, or through an online travel agency like Priceline. Both booking channels are easy-to-use, but Priceline offers a free 24-hour cancellation period and processes the payment in U.S. dollars.
Here’s the Priceline receipt for my very-first EgyptAir flight, from Abu Dhabi to Cairo in January 2017. The one-way economy class fare of $104 for a journey of 4 hours and 1,476 miles was a great deal.
The affordable cost of many EgyptAir tickets makes them an attractive airline to fly with, especially when you are traveling to or from the carrier’s hub at Cairo International Airport.
Requesting Wheelchair Assistance on EgyptAir
After making a booking, travelers can use the six-digit PNR/booking code to access their flight reservation on the EgyptAir website. Through this tool, it is possible to request wheelchair assistance for the journey. In my case, I informed the airline that I am unable to walk and would require the use of an aisle chair.
For more information on the types of special needs and disability assistance offered by EgyptAir, visit www.egyptair.com.
If you would prefer, you can request any assistance by calling the airline at +1 (212) 581-5600 or toll-free at +1 (800) 334-6787. These telephone numbers lead to the EgyptAir office in New York. You can reach the Cairo team at +20 12 8666 6701. Passengers requiring wheelchair assistance can also reach out via e-mail to PR.GM.AL@egyptair.com. If you require contact information for another regional office, click here.
Checking-in for an EgyptAir Flight
I have taken EgyptAir flights from the Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Sharm el-Sheikh airports. Check-in typically opens three hours prior to scheduled departure, and the check-in process with my power wheelchair has averaged about 30 minutes.
The airline often requests that travelers hand over their personal powered wheelchairs at the check-in desk, but this is not necessary. Each time, I have insisted on keeping my own wheelchair until boarding. As many power wheelchair users know, sitting in a standard airport wheelchair is uncomfortable. Beyond that, my mobility device is specialized for me and includes a tilt feature to help me relieve pressure.
After a few phone calls, the manager has always agreed to let me gate-check my wheelchair. EgyptAir will provide an assistance staff member to escort you through the security checkpoint and passport control — take advantage of this assistance and you’ll be airside within 15 minutes.
Wheelchair Assistance at Boarding Gate
I recommend arriving to the gate about one hour prior to departure, and thirty minutes before boarding.
During my first trip with EgyptAir, I hoped to take a photo of the Airbus A330-200 that would take me to Cairo, but was not able to get a clear shot. Here is a stock photo courtesy of Airbus, which will show you what my plane looked like:
EgyptAir has a beautiful livery. The tail features a representation of Horus, the winged God of the Sky or Sun in ancient Egyptian mythology. The picture above is a stock image, of a brand-new Airbus A330 just off the assembly line. Your EgyptAir plane may not look as shiny, due to the difficult elements in Africa and the Middle East.
Depending on the airport, the aircraft may be parked at a remote stand. In this case, able-bodied passengers board via stairs, and disabled passengers are enplaned with the assistance of an AmbuLift or high-loader.
When an AmbuLift is used, the vehicle raises up to the door of the aircraft, which provides level entry for wheelchair users and other disabled passengers.
Regardless of whether boarding occurs via jet bridge or AmbuLift, the wheelchair assistance team will arrive to the gate prior to boarding to assist passengers needing help. In every case, I have been permitted to remain in my own wheelchair until reaching the aircraft door. Upon reaching the door of the aircraft, I have transferred (with assistance) into the aisle chair, then rolled to my seat onboard the aircraft.
Airplanes and Cabins/Classes of Service
The EgyptAir fleet consists of the following aircraft types:
- Airbus A220-300
- Airbus A320neo and A321neo
- Airbus A330-200 and A330-300
- Boeing 737-800
- Boeing 777-300ER
- Boeing 787-9
I have only flown on the airline’s Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft types, but have had the opportunity to test out both classes of service. The newest aircraft in the fleet are the Airbus A220 and Boeing 787 (which has lie-flat seats in business class), and I hope to test those out in the future.
EgyptAir’s Boeing 737-800 is used on domestic and mid-range international flights, and I have flown on the type from Sharm El Sheikh to Cairo, and from Cairo to Nairobi, Kenya.
The economy class seats are typical and arranged in a 3-3 configuration, while the business class seats are larger and more comfortable with a 2-2 arrangement.
Although some economy class seats do offer moveable aisle armrests, those in business class are fixed. The assistance staff can help to lift you in and out of the seat, if necessary.
EgyptAir deploys the Airbus A330-200 on international routes, and I first flew the type from Abu Dhabi to Cairo. It offers two classes of service: economy and business class.
The business class seats on the airline’s Airbus A330-200 were comfortable recliners, but did not lay flat into a bed-like position (as is the case on the A330-300 version). The seatback reclines quite a bit and a leg rest comes up as well, so there are many ways to position oneself to get comfortable. The seat is a big improvement over economy class seats, which are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration.
Economy Class Service
On longer flights, economy class passengers receive a simple meal — chicken or pasta, usually — and just a snack on shorter (domestic) flights.
Business Class Service
Meal service commences just a short time after take-off, and the offering will depend on time of day and flight length. Note that EgyptAir is a dry (alcohol-free) airline, so you’ll have to settle for water, juice, soda pop or coffee.
Here are what some of my business class meals have looked like:
The food seemed fresh and was very tasty. My favorite part was the dessert — very sweet, and rich in calories! I am in love with the design of the EgyptAir tableware, and wish I could take a set home with me!
Service in business class is attentive throughout the meal, and the flight attendants have always been very friendly (regardless of where I’ve been seated).
Assistance on Arrival
On arrival, I actually prefer for the aircraft to park at a remote stand. When an AmbuLift is used to deplane disabled passengers, it means that I will be more quickly reunited with my power wheelchair.
Every time I have flown with EgyptAir, I have arrived at a remote stand. My wheelchair has been returned quickly every time, except on one occasion in Nairobi, Kenya, where the local baggage handlers were clueless on what to do with a power wheelchair.
Assistance staff has always been prompt, and the team has helped me get off of the airplane, collect my bags, and speed through passport control. Having dedicated assistance during these often stressful and unfamiliar steps is priceless.
The vast majority of my EgyptAir trips have been free of any issues, and the airline does seem committed to taking care of disabled passengers. I travel confidently with EgyptAir, and hope that your trips will yield the same positive experiences that I have enjoyed.
Have you taken a trip on EgyptAir with a wheelchair, disability or assistance need?
If so, how was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!