Following a severe or debilitating injury, you may have to use an assistive device. The U.S. Department of Transportation refers to assistive devices as equipment that assists you with your disability.
Your assistive device may help you to hear, seem, walk, maneuver or communicate with others.
Understanding assistive devices
Before you board a plan, it is critical to understand which devices fall under the umbrella of assistive devices, including:
- Prescription medicine and devices to administer medications
- CPAP machines and POCs
- Canes, walkers, crutches, prosthetics, braces and wheelchairs
- Hearing aids
While battery-powered wheelchairs are assistive devices, you cannot bring them with you into the cabin because of their weight. Instead, you have to store them in the cargo area of the plane. In this case, the airline has to return the wheelchair to you as quickly as possible. If you have to use your POC in the air, give the airline 48 hours’ advance notice and bring your medical certificate with you.
Storing assistive devices
Your assistive device does not count towards your baggage limit. However, if you have a bag with an assistive device and other items, the airline may charge you or count the bag towards your baggage limit. You can usually bring your device and store it in the overhead compartment or seat in front of you. If the plane has a designated area, you may use that too. If the device cannot stay in the cabin for any reason, you do not receive any fees for stowing it in the cargo area.
If the airline loses or damages any mobility aids, it must pay for them.