Hot to get a plane

Hi everyone,

I often receive questions, both from disabled and “able-bodied” people, how to get a plane, what it is like to fly by plane, is it complicated, how to contact assistance and so on, for this reason I decided to write a short guide to help some of you and answer some questions.

How to buy the tickets

Buying the ticket is very easy and there are no big differences. You can book online directly from the company’s website or by using one of the many sites to compare prices (I personally use SKYSCANNER a lot). Or you can buy it in a travel agency or in any other way you want.

We always buy them online.

Now on some websites you can select the request for assistance directly during the booking process. You will find convenient drop-down menus through which you can select the type of disability, the type of assistance you require and, if you travel in a wheelchair like me, the type of aid you need to check-in or carry with you.

It may happen that this menu is not present during the booking phase, but do not worry! Buy your tickets normally, make the payment and wait for the confirmation email.

Once this is done, contact the airline’s “special assistance” service directly. You can usually find it on their official website.

Personally we prefer to write an email so that all our requests remain tracked, but you can also call the assistance numbers and speak with an operator.
Better always to ask for a confirmation email!

Useful information requested by airlines – For passengers with disabilities

Each airline company may ask you for slightly different information, but you will usually be asked:

  • Type of disability
  • Ability to stand up and/or take a few steps
  • Transported aid including weight and dimensions
  • Presence of battery, type of battery and possibility to remove it from the wheelchair
  • Type of assistance required (only inside the airport, up to the plane or up to the seat)
  • Some may ask you for additional medical information or a medical certificate that you are able to fly (just ask your doctor)

Once you have provided this information, just wait for the confirmation of assistance from the company and that’s it!


Lately, many airlines, especially low cost ones, give the possibility to choose a seat at an additional cost.

If you want to request assistance, I strongly advise against doing so, as it is likely that you will be assigned a different seat in each case for reasons of safety, convenience or company procedures. Needless to say, they won’t give you your money back in this case!


Once you arrive at the airport it will be time to check-in. You will always be required to arrive at least 2 hours before departure, so check out the time tables!
At this point, look at the billboards and look for your check-in area, they usually have dedicated counters and preferential queues so, before queuing up, take a look around or look for an operator of the company.

Check-in is one of the most delicate and important parts, because very often it all depends on the correctness of the information entered into the system at this moment.
You will probably have to repeat all the information about assistance again, because they always lose some pieces…

Also remember to request that your wheelchair be delivered to the doors of the aircraft once you arrive at your destination or during stopovers (it is called Gate Delivery).
It should be the standard procedure, but I assure you that everything has happened to us, including recovering the wheelchair from the baggage roller… BROKEN!!

This is also the time to tag and ship any baggage or other medical aids that you cannot or do not want to bring on board.

If you travel with your wheelchair you must ABSOLUTELY request an identification label to attach to the wheelchair. Some companies have dedicated ones, others use the standard ones for luggage. In any case, ask for this tag, otherwise, if it gets lost, no one will be able to tell you where it is or who it belongs to… a nightmare !!

It happened that they didn’t know where my wheelchair was and it took them over an hour to find it, despite the ID tag!!


Remember that companies are required to provide you with two seats close to each other for assistance purposes, so don’t worry if every now and then they make a fuss about not paying to choose your seat as it is our right.

At this point you have to choose where to meet with assistance. Whether in the dedicated areas or at the gate. We personally always meet them at the gate so that we can roam freely, have breakfast, wander around the duty-free.

If, on the other hand, you are afraid of getting lost, of not being in time, if you need assistance to move around the airport or to go through security, you can choose to be assisted from check-in.

You can also request assistance directly from the car park, but personally I have never done it and I cannot pronounce on the quality of the service.

Security check

Before the boarding area you will obviously have to go through the security checks.

Here, too, there are usually preferential passages, but if you have not yet met with the assistance it might be a little more difficult to overcome the hordes of passengers in the queue!

Obviously, those who travel in a wheelchair like me will not be able to go through the metal detector, so I have to undergo a manual check.
Now… very frankly, there is a huge difference from airport to airport. Sometimes they just touch my arms and legs in a disinterested way and look a little crookedly at the wheelchair trying to see if I have a piece of bomb sticking out from under my butt.

Other times I suffer a search that is on the verge of rape…
Sometimes, they even X-rayed the wheelchair.

For safety, it would be better to have a medical certificate for all the medicines you need to carry with you, especially in your hand luggage.

The Gate and the Boarding

Once you have passed the security checkpoints, you can freely roam around the duty-free, restaurant area and any other service your airport provides. I can assure you that there are airports where you can easily spend 10 hours without getting bored!
But remember that you will be the first to board, so watch the clock because you will have to show up at the gate a few minutes before the boarding time marked on the ticket and on the boards.

Once you arrive at the gate you will meet the support staff who should help you board. They are always late on time, so be patient…
If you haven’t been given a wheelchair label yet, this is your last chance!

At the time of boarding you can reach the doors of the aircraft with your own wheelchair and at this moment, if you need it and have requested it, you will be provided with a narrower wheelchair to pass in the aisles between the seats.


It is my habit to re-inform both the ground crew and the on-board crew that my wheelchair will have to be loaded MANUALLY in the hold and that it will have to be returned to the aircraft doors once landed, so that everyone is aware of my request.

Immediately after you can get on board, sit in the indicated seat and that’s it.
You can enjoy the ride.

 The on-board experience

The space on board obviously changes enormously according to the company, the duration of the flight and therefore the size of the plane and obviously the class chosen!

I remind you that ALL airlines are required to have an aisle wheelchair on ALL their planes to allow those who cannot walk to go to the toilet, for example.
Unfortunately this does not happen sometimes, many times…, so check it before departure with the crew on board so that they can organize accordingly.

On larger flights there will be no such problems, but remember that from the moment of your request to when you actually have the wheelchair at your side, an almost endless time will pass. It is also difficult for the crew to assist you during meal times.

For the rest there are no big differences between all the other passengers, for once we are all seated and all the same.

The Landing

Once you land, you will have to repeat the boarding procedures: go into the aisle wheelchair, reach your own and exit the gate.

If everyone, from the check-in to the baggage staff, has done their job well, you will find the wheelchair waiting for you at the door of the plane. Otherwise… “On my signal, unleash hell!!”.

Remember that you will always be the first to get on and the last to get off, so you need to be patient and wait for everyone to get off the plane.

Now collect your luggage and you are free to go out!

What to bring on board

I want to give you some useful tips for everyone to face hours and hours on the plane.
You should know that Andrea eats and watches movies non-stop even for 12 hours straight every time we fly.

Here is my list:

  • Shirt or jumper: it is always very cold on board

  • Magazines and books
  • Chewing gum (for nausea and boredom)
  • Tablet, perhaps downloading movies from Netflix before leaving
  • Music
  • A little something to nibble on, you can also take it from home
  • Important medicines and valuables: it is not advisable to ship them or at least it is good to bring at least some with you

Speaking of medicines, here’s what you might need if you have a disability.

For long journeys, they advised me to do heparin because during the flight the pressure is lowered and there is no possibility to move or lie down (although I always try to curl up and put my legs on Andrea).
It may also be helpful to wear compression stockings for the same reason.

Fortunately, I don’t need anything else, but of course, get informed before leaving and remember your prescription, especially if you have to bring needles or syringes or bottles larger than 100ml!

Finally, I also want to give you a couple of tips on how to dress on the plane:

  • A sweatshirt or a sweater, even if you are traveling to hot destinations, because there is always air conditioning on board and it is always very cold!

  • Heavy socks because, especially for long flights, I take off my shoes and put on socks.
  • Comfortable clothes, every now and then I see other women with sheath dresses and heels on the plane… I assure you that after hours and hours standing on the seat you will try to turn around in every possible position, so absolutely comfortable clothes!


At first it may seem a bit cumbersome, but after the first few times I assure you it’s not that different.

Just contact the assistance before leaving and pay attention to your wheelchair during check-in and boarding.

I now love airports and I love to fly. In a few meters, crossing one gate or the other, you can end up in New York, Sydney or Rio de Janeiro, simply magical.

And then Andrea asked me to marry him right at the airport, if you want to know how it went, read HERE!

Read HERE some useful information about passengers’ rights from IATA

 Step by Step

1. Buy the tickets

2. Contact the assistance at least 48 hours before departure

3. Check-in and meet the assitance

4. Get on board

5. Enjoy the flight

6. Get your wheelchair and luggage back

7. Good Trip!

Any question?

This is, in short, all you need to know how to get on the plane and prepare your next trip.

Do you still have any doubts or concerns? Write me HERE and I will try to answer all your questions!

See you next article… and have a good trip!