Flying a child in a wheelchair UK-Japan

  • Flying a child in a wheelchair UK-Japan

    Posted by Cheryl on April 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Morning! Does anyone have any advice about the best airlines to fly with for a family with a nine year old in a wheelchair? Ideally I’d like to be able to take her own, manual, wheelchair on the flight. Asiana Airlines say that you can only go to the gate in your own chair and then have to transfer to one of theirs. Does your own chair follow you in to the cabin or in to the hold? I have heard horror stories of damage to chairs in the hold.

    This is a family trip and I have asked HIS to sort an itinerary out for us because I don’t have the head-space myself… but obviously they are not experts in accessibility.

    With thanks.


    Joan Pahisa replied 6 years, 1 month ago 5 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Accessible Japan

    April 26, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Cheryl,

    Thank you for using the forum.

    As far as I am aware, every airline requires wheelchairs to be stored in the hold as there is no space in the cabin and no way to secure it in case of turbulance etc…

    There is a group trying to change this, but no success yet as far as I know.

    You might want to read this:

    I strongly recommend take a number of pictures of the wheelchair at the airport just before getting on the plane. This lets the staff know that you are paying attention (hopefully inspiring them to be extra careful!), but more importantly, in the event that something does happen, you can prove to the airline that it was fine before putting it on the plane and therefore. Take the pictures at the airport so the airline can’t say “we don’t know when you took those, it could have been any time”.

    Also, you will likely have the opportunity to chose whether to check the wheelchair at the baggage counter, or at the gate. Choose the gate so your daughter can ride in the comfort of her own chair longer, and so that loading the wheelchair will be separated from other baggage and get special treatment.

    As for airlines, if you are coming to Japan I recommend a Japanese airline as they are very careful with wheelchairs. I feel that JAL does better than ANA but either are great.

    Maybe @sarahtengler (from Impact Vacations – an accessible travel agency) can suggest other good airlines?

    I have flown many times, but only had a problem once or twice. So, the likelihood of anything going wrong is slim – don’t worry too much! If anything does happen though, send me a message and I can put you in touch with either a repair place or a rental place here in Japan.

    But I don’t think you’ll need it. (^_^)

  • babajan

    April 30, 2018 at 2:12 pm


    I am so excited for you though I am sure you feel this is a daunting job to get everything in place.

    I travelled extensively with my son and his power wheelchair. We are from Canada so a great deal of our travel has been on Air Canada which has been good for the most part but totally agree with going with a Japanese airline if you can and if at all possible fly direct.

    Plan ahead and get a seat not too far from an accessible toilet as it is a long flight. Go to gate with chair and if you need to you can take cushion seat off chair to make him more comfortable

    Do give us an up date on your travel

    Travel is the best education for anyone Enjoy

  • Joan Pahisa

    May 23, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Two weeks ago my partner who is also a manual wheelchair user came to Japan with Emirates and the wheelchair was put in cabin, both when coming and going back to Spain. It’s the first time that we got this treatment as usually wheelchairs always travel in the hold. Hopefully, things will change and Emirates (or those flights, as I don’t know if it’s company policy) won’t be just an exception.

    I hope you have a nice flight and a great stay in Japan!

  • Josh Grisdale

    May 23, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    That is amazing!  Do you know what the wheelchair model is?  Wish that could happen with power wheelchairs!

  • Joan Pahisa

    May 23, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    It’s a Küschall. I don’t know the exact model. Really light fixed-frame, but removable wheels and foldable back rest. I wish it were the same for all wheelchairs and all airlines too!

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