Accessing France By Plane: Boarding and Disembarking The Plane as a Wheelchair User

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Disability Horizons
Disability Horizons
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Phillip Bryant is a wheelchair user who has multiple sclerosis. He shares his traveling experience flying to France to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday.

picture of plane

Philip researched his flying options. He decided to book with the flight company that informed him that there would be a covered lift for him to access the plane. Once on the plane, Phillip would be transferred to a narrow aisle wheelchair and wheeled to his designated seat. However, when actually boarding the plane Phillip learned that because of EU regulations.

“I later found out that because of EU regulations I couldn’t sit in my favoured isle seat where I could stand and stretch without being hampered by overhead lockers. Apparently this was because I would have been a hindrance to the quick exit of more agile passengers in the event of an emergency; say no more!”

Phillip and his wife in France

It was against health and safety procedures for the flight attendants to assist Phillip with his transfers. Therefore, Phillip had to transfer himself out of the aisle wheelchair into his seat and then slide himself to the window seat. Phillip says he felt like he was ‘tucked in a corner’.

The airplane reached its destination and it was time for the passengers to exit the plane. Phillip disembarked the plane in a wheelchair that had three wheels on each side in the back. Philip states that this wheelchair enabled whoever was pushing him to to go down the steps from the plane to the tarmac effortlessly.

The weather was perfect for traveling, but Phillip questioned the flight attendants about the procedure for loading and unloading during bad weather. The attendant answered his question with humor and sarcasm as he said, “we’ll get wet, won’t we? We have wet weather gear and golfing umbrellas to keep us dry.” Boarding his return flight, Phillip was met by flight attendants wearing yellow wet weather gear.

Have you ever traveled by plane? What was your boarding experience like? Share your story with us at!

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