American Airlines Policy and Power Wheelchair Users

  • American Airlines Policy and Power Wheelchair Users

     Josh Grisdale updated 1 year ago 2 Members · 7 Posts
  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    October 30, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Just saw this horrible news on Wheelchairtravel.org about American Airways’ new policy that bans heavier wheelchairs on certain airplanes. According to the policy, the “maximum acceptable weights for mobility aids” by aircraft type:

    • Embraer RJ-175 — 400 lbs. (181 kg)
    • Embraer RJ-170 — 400 lbs. (181 kg)
    • Embraer ERJ-145 — 400 lbs. (181 kg)
    • Embraer ERJ-140 — 400 lbs. (181 kg)
    • Canadair RJ 900 — 300 lbs. (136 kg)
    • Canadair RJ 700 — 300 lbs. (136 kg)

    When they looked at the planes flying to airports across the US that would likely essentially prevent customers in wheelchairs from using around 130 airports!

    Definitely read the rest of his findings here:

    https://wheelchairtravel.org/american-airlines-policy-prohibits-power-wheelchairs-regional-jets/

    If you have been effected by this let us know!

  • gbgb

    Member
    October 31, 2020 at 3:20 am

    This seems to be a very bad thing at first and for some people it is. However ….

    I don’t think it is as bad as it seems. The heaviest chair that I am familiar with is the Invacare Storm series. The heaviest in that series is 372 lbs. This is the long wheelbase model (which may have size issues!) with all the bells and whistles and batteries. I realize there are others that are heavier.

    The saving grace is that the batteries in most wheel chairs are easily removable; they are on a slide out tray or are in removable boxes with plugs and sockets.

    Assuming the airline is more worried about floor loading and aircraft balance than how much weight you are allowed this means they can place a 250 Lb chair on one side and 125 Lb, approximately, of batteries on the other side.

    This doesn’t mean you won’t have to argue with some dim witted official who just doesn’t get it!

    This will be more complicated in the future with the greater use of lithium batteries. They are lighter and may alleviate the weight problem, but they terrify airline people who remember the Boeing battery fires.

  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    October 31, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Great points. And hopefully the staff will be understanding that these are policies, not laws, and therefore be willing to bend them on the rare occasion they need too.

    With the battery comments, hopefully the wheelchair industry can work with the airline industry and come up with standards together. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to tear my chair apart to show someone (who knows nothing about wheelchairs!) my batteries etc…

    I think every airport should have a mobility device engineer on staff.

  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    November 4, 2020 at 8:21 am
  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    November 10, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    This story keeps on going! Here is a follow up from John where he flew on the same type of plane, but had no issues when United Airlines was the carrier:

    https://wheelchairtravel.org/united-airlines-accepts-power-wheelchairs-that-american-airlines-has-banned/

    I’m sure we’ll hear more!

  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    November 11, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    And even more! It looks as though American Airlines is changing their minds a bit:

    After his story aired on NPR, American Airlines said in a statement: “We apologize for the confusion and will ensure all customers can travel wherever American flies.” The airline also told Dallas Morning News, “We are working with our safety team, the aircraft manufacturers, and the FAA to modify these limits to continue to safely accommodate heavy mobility devices and wheelchairs on our smaller, regional aircraft. To our customers with disabilities, we hear you, and will continue to listen and work hard to improve your experience traveling with American.”

    https://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/american-airlines/american-airlines-reviewing-wheelchair-policy-blogger-refused-flight

  • Josh Grisdale

    Member
    November 24, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Well, looks like there was a positive end to this story as American Airlines modified their policy.

    You can see the new policy here:

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/experience/planes/planes.jsp

    And the conclusion (hopefully!) of John’s story here:

    https://wheelchairtravel.org/american-airlines-reverses-wheelchair-weight-limit-updated-policy/

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