Flying With A Disability: Contacting Airline Prior To Flight

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Drew Cumpson
Drew Cumpson
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

“When it comes to air travel, there are many things to be taken into consideration before you get to the airport,” says Drew Cumpson, a C4 quadriplegic. He shares how he contacted the airport prior to his first commercial flight since becoming injured.

Drew in an aisle chair on airplane

Drew was traveling from his hometown of Toronto, Canada to Cancun, Mexico.

Drew had many questions about flying so he contacted the Air Transit Special Services Department on the phone before his trip to discuss his medical needs.

The equipment Drew needed to be transported on the plane was a manual wheelchair, portable hoyer lift, two ventilators, and a cough assistant machine. Speaking to the airline beforehand, Drew was able to confirm that his ventilator would not be affected by any mechanics of the airplane or interfere with other equipment. Drew also learned that the rest of his medical equipment would board the plane free of charge because they are needed for his daily life.

“Not having to pay for the extra luggage that is needed for my medical condition is a bonus or else I would be paying a lot of money for the amount of luggage I have to take with me.”

During the phone call, the airline also set it up for a person to greet Drew and his caregivers to help carry his luggage. He says, “This was extremely helpful as I always have to travel with two attendants; therefore having three personal luggage bags plus medical equipment makes a heavy load.”

Drew was also able to discuss how he would be transferred on/off the plane. However, Drew learned that being physically transferred by airline employees may be easier said than done as he ran into a few problems. Check out his original post to read about it!

Drew’s story shows the importance of advocating for your needs prior to traveling on an airplane.

Do you have tips for flying as a person with a disability? Share your story with us at!

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