Write about your flight in a wheelchair and earn travel vouchers
It can be a pain getting around the airport. One of my friends told me how she struggled with her 10 month old son and heaps of luggage without any form of assistance. She commented on how handy it would've been if she could've at least had a wheelchair for her son since the particular airline managed to lose his pram in transit. A wonderful security guard ended up helping her with her luggage.
Unfortunately, it's not just a case of turning up and asking for a wheelchair. I would advise you to book the wheelchair as soon as you have made your booking. There are only a limited number available per flight on most airlines. Below you will find the phone numbers you need and the absolute latest you can book. It is always better to first check availability of the wheelchairs before booking your flight; just have the number of the flight you want to go on at hand.
"Dear SouthAfrica.To, I really wanted to relay to you my experience, while unfortunately having to elect for assisted travel after a recent bout in hospital. Thought it is worth a read as I am still not sure whether to find the experience laughable or extremely scary. Arriving at OR Tambo Airport to check in for out flight to Abu Dhabi, they immediately picked up that I needed a wheelchair. We waited for about ¾ of an hour for said wheelchair. Not too disturbing as there was a chair behind a check in counter which I managed to sit on. We arrived at the gate all and well, it was when we went to board the plane that things went wrong. We were greeted at the hoist vehicle by two African assistants both middle aged. Eunice(for want of a name to use) was extremely concerned about someone falling off the back of the hoist, so herded us all on – this after we had been made to get up out of the wheelchairs?? Once the hoist was at the correct level she then, obviously still very concerned about someone falling off the back of the hoist, almost pushed us into the truck. Poor Eunice had failed to think that should she have turned on the lights inside this vehicle, it would have been a whole lot easier for people, who were obviously in need of assistance, being able to see where they were walking and get off the platform a whole lot quicker. A fellow traveller who was very frail on his feet, could barely move (remember Eunice had taken his wheelchair away from him before he got on the hoist), my travel partner when trying to assist this gentleman, tripped over one of the anchors on the floor that is used to secure the wheelchairs (so we are still not sure why said Eunice asked everyone to get out of the wheelchairs??) The worst was yet to come, once every one was seated and secure, she promptly went round to each person giving them a card and saying that seeing as they had been so helpful, we must send an email to the email address on the card saying how good they had been. Then her and her colleague, stood at the front of the truck and again, re-iterated that it was very important that we send an email telling their bosses how helpful they were. Fortunately we were all dispatched and seated with no further mishap. Eunice and her counterpart, were simply over zealous in their endeavours to make sure we were all safe from the one aspect, but completely neglected our safety in other aspects. Thank goodness no one was injured. At all the other destinations in our journey the ground staff were very helpful. A big nod to Etihad, whose service was outstanding". Regards, Anne
You will need to book the flight and the wheelchair at least 24 hours in advance. There is a special call centre you need to phone on 011 978 1111 (option 3). You have to book your flight on this number too; you cannot book your flight online and then call in to book the wheelchair separately. Once you have made the bookings, you need to call back after two hours to confirm that it has been done.
When you arrive at check-in, the person at the counter will see on your booking that you have reserved a wheelchair and they will then bring it to you. The number of wheelchairs available will depend on the flight, how full it is and its destination.
You will need to book a wheelchair at least 48 hours before departure. Once you have made your booking, you need to phone Customer Services on 0861 585852. They will then put you through to their Special Cases department where they will then check availability and make the booking. No need to call back and check whether they have booked it (but I would call again, just in case).
As before, when you get to check-in, there will be a note on your booking that a wheelchair has been reserved.
Mango has a dedicated phone line for Special Needs on 011 086 6120. Once you have made your booking, you need to call this number at least 48 hours prior to departure to check availability. If they have a wheelchair available for you, you need to download this form, complete it and fax it to 086 522 2951.
You will then need to call the Special Needs number again after an hour or so to check that the reservation has been done successfully. Mango has 3 wheelchairs available per flight.
You will need to check availability for a wheelchair at least 48 hours prior to flying. As before, it is best to check before you actually book your flight, to avoid disappointment.
Once you have booked your flight, you will need to phone this number, 011 921 0222, to book the wheelchair. The number of wheelchairs available will depend on the flight, how full it is and its destination.
The most important lesson here is to check availability before you even book your flight. It will save you time, money and disappointment.
Someone who was greatly disappointed a few years ago, is South African racer Ernst Van Dyk. His custom built racing wheelchair was left behind in Johannesburg on his way to a very important race in New York. Click here to read more about how SAA lose his wheelchair.
Here is a short video clip of a very tired Ernst just after winning his 9th Boston Marathon in 2010.
Fortunately, fragile and special luggage don't get lost too often and it is impossible to predict whether the luggage handler will be having a good day or a bad day. Just prepare as best you can and enjoy the journey!