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Powered wheelchairs and mobility aids

If you use a powered wheelchair or mobility aid, you’re most welcome to travel with it on Virgin Atlantic.

There are quite a few things to take note of to make it quicker and easier to fly with your battery-powered wheelchair or mobility aid, but the first thing to do at the earliest opportunity is for you to contact our Special Assistance team. They can be contacted on 0344 412 4455.

Safety Restrictions
Airline operators must comply with all applicable legislation and regulations. The legislation/regulations that apply to the carriage of electric mobility aids are:

  • CAA Safety Notice, SN-2012/003 - Safety Requirements Applicable to the Carriage of Electric Mobility Aids
  • 14 CFR Part 382 – Non-discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel, 13 May 2008
  • Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 – concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air, 5 July 2006
  • IATA / ICAO Dangerous Goods Regulations
  • For flights to and from the US – 49 CFR 175.10(a)(15) and (16) – Shippers – General Requirement for Shipments and Packagings, Subpart E: Non-bulk Packaging for Hazardous Materials Other Than Class 1 and Class 7

If your electric mobility aid does not comply with these safety based regulations we will not be able to transport it.

What this means to you:

There must be sufficient space available on the aircraft when your booking is made. As mobility aids come in different shapes and sizes we can’t specify exact limits that each aircraft type can carry. If you intend to travel with a mobility aid it’s advisable to contact Special Assistance at the earliest opportunity.

The batteries of the electric mobility aid must comply with all dangerous / hazardous goods regulations.

Your electric mobility aid must be able to be prevented from inadvertent operation or short circuit. One way you may consider to achieve this is by using an inhibitor plug as suggested in the CAA Safety Notice which can be found below, on page 8, 6.3.

Another useful link is to the British Healthcare Trades Association website (opens in a new window) which has a log proving important details about your mobility aid.

The electric mobility aid must comply with the loading limitations applicable to the aircraft type on which it is planned to travel (See table below) i.e. The electric mobility aid must be able to be loaded through the cargo doors and not exceed the loading limits of that aircraft. In the event of last minute aircraft changes your electric mobility aid may not be able to travel on your planned flight. If your journey involves more than one type of aircraft we will need to check each sector of your journey.

 

  B747 A346 A343 A330 A320*
Loading limitations
(size of cargo doors)
Length 144cms

Width 146cms

Height 160cms
Length 144cms

Width 146cms

Height 160cms
Length 144cms

Width 146cms

Height 160cms

Length 144cms

Width 146cms

Height 160cms

Length 144cms

Width 146cms

Height 111cms

* Our A320 aircraft cannot accommodate a mobility aid with a spillable battery as we do not have the space available to ensure this type of battery complies with safety regulations.

Checking in and picking up your battery-powered wheelchair or mobility aid

It would be a great help if you could arrive at least 90 minutes before your scheduled time of departure, so we can prepare your wheelchair for your flight.

You will often be able to stay in your wheelchair/mobility aid until you get to the aircraft – if not, you’ll be able to use a wheelchair provided by the airport after checking your wheelchair in. This process differs between airports around the world.

On landing, whenever possible we’ll have your wheelchair/mobility aid ready and waiting at the aircraft doors. However, you may have to reclaim it at the baggage hall – in these instances an airport wheelchair will be made available until yours can be reclaimed.

Important information about your battery powered wheelchair or mobility aid

Due to the dangerous goods regulations, we have to treat your wheelchair or mobility device differently depending on the type of battery installed. You can bring either type with you unless you are travelling on Little Red where we cannot accept spillable batteries.

Wheelchairs or mobility aids with non spillable wet batteries and dry cell batteries

As the operator we must ensure that:

  • The battery terminals are protected from short circuits e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container
  • The battery is securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid
  • Electrical circuits have been isolated and there is no chance of unintentional operation (i.e. all motors must be rendered inoperative). If this is not possible and as an absolute last step, the battery cables must be disconnected and the battery terminals must be insulated to prevent short circuits

Unfortunately we cannot accept mobility aids with spillable batteries on our Little Red flights as the space limitations make us unable us to comply with safety regulations.

Where a battery powered wheelchair or mobility aid is specifically designed to allow its battery(ies) to be removed by the user (e.g. collapsible), the following must be adhered to by us as the operator:

  • The battery(ies) must be removed. The wheelchair or mobility aid may then be carried as checked baggage without restriction
  • The removed battery(ies) must be carried in strong, rigid packaging which must be carried in the aircraft hold
  • The battery(ies) must be protected from short circuit
  • We must inform the pilot in command of the location of the packed battery

Wheelchair or mobility aid with a spillable battery

As the operator we must ensure that:
The battery terminals are protected from short circuits e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container

  • The battery is securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid
  • Electrical circuits have been isolated and there is no chance of unintentional operation (i.e. all motors must be rendered inoperative). If this is not possible and as an absolute last step, the battery cables must be disconnected and the battery terminals must be insulated to prevent short circuits

Unfortunately we cannot accept mobility aids with spillable batteries on our Little Red flights as the space limitations unable us to comply with safety regulations.

Wheelchair or mobility aid with a lithium battery

As the operator we must ensure that:

  • The batteries must be of a type which meets the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3
  • The battery terminals are protected from short circuits e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container
  • The battery is securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid
  • Electrical circuits have been isolated and there is no chance of unintentional operation (i.e. all motors must be rendered inoperative). If this is not possible and as an absolute last step, the battery cables must be disconnected and the battery terminals must be insulated to prevent short circuits

Where a battery powered wheelchair or mobility aid is specifically designed to allow its battery(ies) to be removed by the user (e.g. collapsible), the following must be adhered to by us as the operator:

 

  • The battery(ies) must be removed. The wheelchair or mobility aid may then be carried as checked baggage without restriction
  • The battery(ies) must be protected from short circuit by insulating the terminals (e,g. By taping over exposed terminals)
  • The removed battery(ies) must be protected from damage (e.g. by placing each battery in a protective pouch). The battery(ies) must be carried in the passenger cabin.
    Removal of the battery from the device must be performed by following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner
  • The battery must not exceed 300 Wh
  • A maximum of one spare battery not exceeding 300 Wh or two spares each not exceeding 160 Wh may be carried. The battery(ies) must be carried in the passenger cabin
  • We must inform the pilot in command of the location of the wheelchair or mobility aid with an installed battery or the location of the lithium battery(ies) when removed and carried in the cabin

Spare batteries

If you want to take spare batteries, please let our Special Assistance team know before you travel, as only approved batteries will be allowed on the aircraft. You can call them on 0344 412 4455.