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Flying with a walker

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    Flying with a walker

    I’ve been a bit quiet recently because I’ve been coping with a very painful non-MND related musculo-skeletal problem – now, thank God, largely resolved. But I thought I should report recent experience of taking my four-wheeled walker on a flight.

    I needed to attend a meeting in Kiel, which involved flights between Heathrow and Hamburg. The outbound flight was with Eurowings – the budget airline of Lufthansa – and the return was with BA. I’d booked specialist assistance (wheelchair) throughout.

    I hadn’t realised that at Heathrow I could summon a wheelchair from the taxi drop-off point to check-in. Consequently, I had rather a slow and tiring trudge with the walker to the specialist assistance desk. From there on everything went smoothly. A wheelchair and attendant appeared quickly and we dropped the walker off at oversize baggage. As usual, we sped to the head of the passport control and security queues and on to the gate.

    The flight was delayed an hour. Once aboard, I asked the stewardess to phone ahead and let Hamburg know the need for a wheelchair could be postponed. She did, but mentioned in passing that assistance in Hamburg was rather patchy. Fears were unfounded because a wheelchair and attendant were waiting at the plane door. Interestingly, such assistance is provided not by the airline or airport but by the German Red Cross. They were a bit stretched, to the extent that one guy pushed me and an elderly lady quite expertly to baggage reclaim. The walker was already next to the carousel – undamaged! Again, the wheelchair ensured swift passage through passport control.

    My hotel room had a fully fitted disabled bathroom and the walker was invaluable getting around the bedroom. The meeting organizer had hired a wheelchair for me and several colleagues were happy to push me round the university and city.

    The return leg was fairly smooth, except that the first wheelchair attendant at Heathrow dumped me on a seat at the end of a walkway and took the wheelchair away for somebody else. Fortunately, her colleague turned up shortly afterwards with a replacement. The walker turned up ahead of my hold baggage.

    On the basis of this experience, I now feel more confident about taking a walker – and ultimately an electric wheelchair – on flights into Europe.

    Of course, Kiel is not far from Lübeck, so unreasonable amounts of Niederegger marzipan were purchased. This was justified on physiological rather than sensual grounds because of its high calorific value!

    Diagnosed April 2017

    Hi Doug,

    Thank you for posting about your experience.

    I have successfully used wheelchair assistance from Manchester and Heathrow to various long- and short-haul destinations and have always received good service. In fact, one of the best experiences was on a Flybe flight (operated by Eddie Stobart Air) to Southend-on-Sea.

    Trying to keep positive, but not always managing.


      Hi Doug,

      I’m pleased that your trip went as planned and now you have the confidence to travel by air. I have discovered that the wheelchair service at destination airports varies depending on the the arrival time of flights as there are limits to staff and equipment such as ambulifts and wheelchairs.

      I’m going to do this even if it kills me!


        Hi Doug,

        Thank you for kindly letting us know how you have been getting on. It's good to hear that you enjoyed your trip to Kiel and the journey went smoothly.

        I hope you had fun sightseeing with your friends and you also had plenty of time to enjoy the German cuisine and hospitality (although, I imagine you would be more of a fan of German wine than their famous beer?).

        Great news that your non-MND related health issue is getting resolved - and hopefully you are not in pain now.

        I'm glad you and your walker got home safely. Enjoy the delicious marzipan! (perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee - or a glass of German wine?).


        Kayleigh x