Wheelie Accessible Adventures

Qantas Wheelchair Information

Flying With Qantas Australia In A Wheelchair

Flying when you’re in a wheelchair is certainly a bit more complicated then those flying without a wheelchair. I have only ever flown with Qantas as I feel they are the leaders in accommodating passengers with special needs.

When flying with a wheelchair I feel its best to have all your information in order before you book your flight.  In this post I am going to try and provide all the information and tips I use to book and prepare when flying

Booking Your Flights With A Wheelchair.

First thing to do is to decide on a suitable flight. I do this by looking at the Qantas website. Once I have decided on the day and time I would like, I check out the flight number information. You can get the flight information by clicking the flight number which starts with QF. The most important thing to check is which plane you will be flying on. This is very important information as Qantas has wheelchair size restrictions on each plane model. Most Electric wheelchairs will not fit on a Boeing 717 due to the cargo door size being so small in height. To find out which plane your wheelchair will fit on please checkout the size restriction chart below. This is very important as this is where most people run into problems at the airport because they are booked on a flight that can not take the size of their wheelchair. When booking a flight don’t expect the Qantas agent to check this information for you as they don’t consider this and can book wheelchair users on an unsuitable flight.

Qantas wheelchair size

When booking a flight with a wheelchair you can not book online if you use a Qantas companion carer concession card. A Qantas carer companion concession card is a special card for those who need a carer on a plane to help with basic needs. This card entitles a carer with a discounted fare and no phone booking fee. Because of this you must book over the phone. When booking over the phone prepare to wait on hold for over an hour to make the booking as the Qantas line is most times very busy. There is no special needs line.
The agent will ask for the flight details you would like to book. I find it best to quote the flight number also along with the flight day and time. They will than ask for your Qantas carer card information along with your wheelchair information. You must know the height, length and width of your wheelchair along with the weight and if it has a battery and what type of battery, for example Gell cell, Dry cell. Because batteries are dangerous goods you must know this information. You will also need to receive a dangerous goods clearance letter for your wheelchair. You do not automatically get a dangerous goods clearance at the time of booking. You will need to email Qantas dangerous goods team and provide your wheelchair info to request for the letter in time for your flight. The clearance letter will last one year. You do not need to apply again for the clearance until January the following year if you plan to fly.
They will only allow you to book the wheelchair user and carer at the one time and will not let you book for a 3rd or more people at the time you make the booking. It’s a rule that seems to have just came into place over the last few years. I have to book Nickys flight online after I have made our booking.
Once your booking is made over the phone, ensure you check the details and flight information for mistakes once your receive your e-tickets via email. I have discovered a few mistakes in my time, and had to ring Qantas to correct it. I have never had any issue with Qantas correcting the mistakes.
You are also allowed to bring 2 mobility aids or equipment with you with Qantas at no extra charge. So if you have an electric wheelchair and a push wheelchair there should be no charge to carry both.

Wheelchair Process At The Domestic Airport

If you have a wheelchair to check in, you will need to check in via the check in desk. The check in agent will ask for your e-tickets and wheelchair clearance.
You will need to tell them you want to remain in your wheelchair up to the plane door, if that is what you want to do.
They will check your luggage in and tag up your wheelchair. The check in agent will radio through and provide your wheelchair information to the special handing crew on that day so they know there is a wheelchair user for that flight. They will normally ask you to confirm the wheelchair weight and battery type again.
When you line up for the security check you will be taken in through another gate and are given a pat down and screening. Once cleared, you can then proceed to your boarding gate as normal. They normally ask for you to be there 20 minutes before boarding time. Wheelchair passengers are put on the flight before other passengers.
When the special handing team come to assist you to the plane, it is a good idea just to do a quick run down with them of your wheelchair. I normally show them how to put it in free wheel mode and how to move down the backrest. They normally like to unplug the battery but I take my controller off and put it in my bag before I give them my wheelchair. I take the controller because it’s breakable if they are rough with it. I recommend anything that is detachable and breakable you should secure it or take it with you. Because I take my joystick controller from the chair they do not need to unplug the batteries from my wheelchair as there is no power going though it. But on a few occasions they have still unplugged it.
Most major Airports have aerobridges, which is a much better option for those in wheelchairs. Some airports don’t offer aerobridges such as Hobart airport. Hobart airport has a portable ramp instead. Read my review here on my experience at Hobart airport.
If it is at a major airport with an aerobridge, such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne. They will bring you an aisle wheelchair at the plane door to board. You will need to transfer to the Qantas aisle wheelchair and on to the plane seat. Mum normally just carries me to the plane seat so I don’t need the aisle wheelchair but I understand everyone’s situation is different. I believe Qantas also offer a hoist called an eagle lift for people who find transfers difficult. I have never seen or used an eagle lift so I can’t comment too much about it. They also offer a harness while you are in the plane seat and also car seats for disabled children. I believe this is a new option. Again I have only heard about these so sadly I can’t provide accurate information regarding these options.
The airline hostess will do a quick personal safety chat with you before passengers board the plane.

You will normally be able to see the luggage crew boarding your wheelchair from your window. As you can see they normally use a lift to put your wheelchair in the cargo hole. You should also see them getting your wheelchair out the same way.

When disembarking the plane you must state you want your wheelchair bought up to the plane door. They will then bring your wheelchair up to you once the other passengers have left. Again they will bring you the aisle wheelchair to transfer you until you reach your wheelchair at the plane door. Mum normally just carries me.
Your wheelchair should be there waiting for you when you get off the plane. if they have not bought your wheelchair up, you have the right to wait on the plane until your wheelchair has been bought up for you. They should have plugged the batteries back in and you should be ready to start your Wheelie Accessible Adventure.

 

My experiences flying with Qantas have been mostly positive. But I do think there is some room for improvement in areas regarding wheelchair passengers. In my opinion I give Qantas a rating of 4 for wheelchair handling,  and  a rating of 4 stars for the overall service at the airport.

wheelchair access rating 4
4/5

* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*