Quadriplegic's First Commercial Flight

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Recently, Matty and Kylie were invited to be guests at the annual luncheon of The Cauliflower Club, a rugby-based charity organization. The event was held in Sydney, a one-hour flight from Matty and Kylie’s home in Melbourne.

At first, Matty and Kylie weren’t sure they would be able to make the trip. Matty sustained a spinal cord injury while playing in a rugby match in 2015. “At nearly 6’8″ and now a C4 quadriplegic, we were not convinced air travel would be possible for Matty,” shares Kylie. But after doing research to determine what steps were necessary, the couple decided to go for it.

Kylie spent a lot of time preparing for the flight to make sure things would go as smoothly as possible. First, she communicated with the airline to ensure all of their accommodations could be met. Kylie provided the airline with such information as her husband’s wheelchair weight and dimensions (which she obtained online) and the type of battery.

“As in our case only certain planes had the space in the hold large enough to accommodate my husband’s power chair as it measures over 1m in height and length. Websites will have the dimensions of the cargo areas in the special needs section.”

When Kylie booked the flight, she made sure to request “an Eagle hoist, a harness, and two people to assist with transfers.” Kylie also made detailed signs that she put on Matty’s wheelchair that contained handling instructions and contact and flight information. She says these signs came in handy during the pre-flight check in “as you are constantly asked about the batteries and weight.”

At the terminal, Matty was transferred out of his wheelchair and into an aisle seat, and Kylie prepared Matty’s chair for cargo stowing. “I removed the headrest and cushion from his chair, and wrapped the controls in bubble wrap,” she shares. “I also bought a smaller memory foam cushion aboard for the flight.” Boarding went smoothly thanks to Kylie’s advance planning.

“We were first to board the plane and last to disembark so felt no discomfort with prying eyes. The crew were absolutely fantastic and made us so comfortable, they really couldn’t do enough for us.”

With detailed planning and preparation, Matty and Kylie were able to accomplish something big. “We had such a positive experience,” says Kylie, “we wouldn’t hesitate flying again, and we encourage anybody else contemplating it to just do it!”

Thank you to Matty and Kylie Vosa for sharing their first flying experience post injury. You can follow their journey by visiting the Facebook page 4Matty where Kylie posts videos of Matty’s progress.

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