Flying While Injured: Taking Crutches on an Airplane
You’ve been planning your trip for a while now, or perhaps this is a last-minute, but necessary, flight.
Unfortunately, even the best plans can easily be interrupted by injury. If you are traveling while injured and need to take your crutches on an airplane, it’s important to know what steps to take for a stress-free flight.
You may be wondering, “Can I bring crutches on an airplane?” While you are certainly permitted to bring crutches on airplanes, it will require more preparation to bring them along, as they do make getting around more difficult. Finding the right crutches or using a hands-free crutch can make navigating the airport easier.
Here are our top tips on how to bring your crutches on an airplane so you can fly while injured.
1. Don’t Stress: Ask for Special Services
You’re not the first person to fly while injured or to bring crutches on an airplane.
Most airlines will do their best to make boarding and deplaning easier for you. Ask for priority boarding and look for special services staff to assist you. While you may be a highly independent person, traveling with an injury is not a time to try and do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — you’re going to need it.
2. Book a Seat with More Room
If you know you’ll be bringing your crutches on an airplane, book seats with some extra legroom. Getting extra leg space will likely require an additional fee, but the added convenience and comfort will be worth it. When considering paying for more leg room, remember that you won’t have the option of free emergency exit seating when on crutches.
3. Inform The Airline of Your Injury in Advance
As soon as you’re certain that you’ll be bringing crutches on an airplane, let the airline know. Be sure to ask about their special assistance details. Airlines will often let you request wheelchair service, special seating, and early boarding before your flight. Be sure to also check their requirements for mobility devices.
Sometimes devices that can’t be stowed in an overhead bin must be checked. However, collapsible crutches can be easily stored in an overhead bin so you don’t have to be without your crutches while on a plane.
4. Get a Curbside Drop-Off & Consider a Wheelchair
Consider taking a cab or asking a friend for a ride to the airport. This way, you can be dropped off in front of the door and avoid the stress of boarding shuttles and hobbling to the check-in counter while on crutches.
There are often wheelchairs near the airport entrance for your use. Plus, if you need to sit, there are usually wheelchairs near the entrance you can use. It pays to use one at the airport. Arriving two to three hours early for a flight is a requirement these days, and standing on crutches for that long would be uncomfortable. In situations like these, wheelchairs offer the best solution.
5. Take Advantage of Early Check-In
When you need to bring crutches on an airplane, it’s important to consider the time it will take for you to get around. Getting from the curb or your car, checking in, passing through security, getting to your gate, and boarding will all take longer if you’re flying while injured. This is especially true if you’re flying alone. Checking in early and arriving ahead of schedule will help ensure that you get where you need to go before takeoff.
6. Prepare for Airport Security
Arriving early will also ensure you have plenty of time to get through airport security. You should call your airline and ask what they recommend to help you get through the security process so you know what to expect. However, there are some general things to anticipate when bringing crutches on an airplane.
You can certainly bring your crutches and wear your cast or boot, but be aware that you will likely need to undergo additional security screening. This may include a pat down and swab check for explosives residue. Although it may be a little awkward, it’s a necessary precaution and anticipating the screening process can help you prepare for it.
7. Ask for Priority Boarding
Once you arrive early to your gate, make sure you ask the gate attendant for priority boarding. If you’ve flown before, you know that individuals with injuries and disabilities, families with small children, and others with additional needs are invited to board the plane first. Bringing your crutches on an airplane and getting to your seat when injured will be easier if you don’t have to navigate your way through the throngs of people on the airplane.
Understand that although you will be one of the first people to board your flight, you will also probably be the last off your flight. Prepare accordingly and avoid any tight layovers if possible. If you do have a layover that’s time-sensitive, make sure you let your gate agent know so they can call ahead and inform the connecting flight that you are on your way and traveling with assistance.
8. Use a Better Mobility Device
Traditional crutches aren’t the only option when it comes to mobility.
Collapsible crutches make it easier to bring crutches on an airplane because stow easily and can be used during a flight. However, you’ll still have to get through the airport which can be difficult with these.
The iWALK2.0 hands-free crutch is a mobility device that makes getting around the airport easier. It features a Vibram tread for serious traction, even on airport floors. They also have a compact design, making them ideal for airline travel.
Bringing Your Crutches On an Airplane
Whichever device you use, consider your limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask shuttle drivers to use the wheelchair ramp if you’re on crutches, let people open doors for you, and tip your special services staff for their help. You should also check with your doctor before leaving on any trip to make sure that you’re cleared to travel.
Once you’ve been cleared for travel and know these helpful tips, you’re ready to bring your crutches on an airplane and enjoy your flight.