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Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

Perigueux, France
Level Contributor
31 posts
38 reviews
Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

I have a replacement hip and knee and have recently developed spinal problems. We are booked on a trip from BDX to LGW and onwards to LAX in January which is all paid for. Therefore we are reluctant to cancel although I can only walk a few steps. Has anyone experience of the wheelchair services of BA both in the UK and in Los Angeles please? I am concerned that my husband will be left with all the luggage and managing everything on his own!

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
45,043 posts
54 reviews
1. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

fitz ~

It would be really worthwhile to post also on the Air Travel Forum where many regular posters are airline or airport employees as well as very frequent flyers.


Also, on the BA website have a look at "Travel Preparation" then "Special Assistance."


Passenger and wheelchair assistance is carried out by the airport, not the airline, but you do need to inform BA 48 hours in advance of your needs so that they can make the necessary arrangements. Ensure that you let them know what your needs are: wheelchair? and assistance carting luggage?

Nowy Sacz, Poland
Destination Expert
for Poland
Level Contributor
4,024 posts
42 reviews
2. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

Generally speaking, "assistance" will only get you, the disabled passenger, from the plane to the arrivals area (ie to and through immigration, baggage collection and customs, to the area where people meeting passengers will be waiting). From there, you're on your own. So if you need help beyond that point - to a car hire depot, for example, you will be on your own and your husband will have to cope with the bags. It's similair at your departure airport - you check in then assistance will take you through the process to the gate, where you'll basivally have to manage with a little help from gate staff to get to the plane.

Hampshire, United...
Destination Expert
for Eastleigh, Winchester
Level Contributor
4,697 posts
99 reviews
3. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

There is a *lot* of variation by airport and airline (some airlines provide their own assistance rather than using that supplied by the airport) but the key point always is to call the airlines special assistance number to book it as far in advance as possible. They will need to know whether you can manage steps and walk from the airport door to your seat (normally, but not always, near the door).

If you can't walk to the seat aisle wheelchairs are available but because of the limited width these can be uncomfortable with the risk of bumping into the seat arms.

If the flight is using steps rather than a ramp gate then you (and partner) will be taken by Ambulift truck to the plane and raised to the door.

Remember on landing to remain on the plane until everyone else has deplaned - the cabin crew will let you know when assistance is ready to help you.

At Gatwick assistance will help you from the time you land until you board your onward flight.

At some airports assistance will meet you outside the terminal (Gatwick has phones in the car parks) but generally it starts at the check-in desk while at your destination some will take you all the way to your rental car (worth a tip for the wheelchair pusher) while others consider the job done when you clear customs - not sure what LAX is like

Level Contributor
2,682 posts
20 reviews
4. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

I have done wheelchair assistance at lax and lgw, you need to inform your airline ASAP but not later than 48 hrs before departure, your husband will be able to come through all immigration etc with you so no queuing in line for him, as for luggage if he can't manage get a porter , but normally you are taken to baggage reclaim in your chair or buggy, then he can get a trolley and get the luggage, all depending on your airline and type of ticket your luggage should be checked through once to final destination, BUT that does depend on previous comment! Ask when you check in for first flight.


Perigueux, France
Level Contributor
31 posts
38 reviews
5. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

Thank you to everyone who has replied to my enquiry - it has really set my mind at rest as this will be my first attempt at longhaul without being able to walk! thanks a lot/

Mount Dora, Florida
Destination Expert
for Istanbul
Level Contributor
13,633 posts
222 reviews
6. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

I cannot comment on what you can expect in the UK, but we often fly into LAX. At this airport you can expect that there will be a wheelchair waiting for you at the door of your airplane. The wheelchair person will take you through passport control and baggage claim and customs. Your spouse will be allowed to move with you, and you will not be required to wait in any lines.

Once you have your baggage, the wheelchair person will assist your husband to load your luggage on a cart, or he will obtain a person with a cart to help your husband. This person will also expect a tip, but it is well worth the service.

These two individuals will then ask you where you need to go. If you need to rent a car they will take you to that area and help you on to the shuttle bus. If you need to take a shuttle bus to a hotel, they will take you to the shuttle bus area and help you. They will generally take you wherever you need to go. I have never been dumped at baggage, and my husband has never been required to manage our baggage on his own.

Overall, every experience we have had at LAX has been excellent, and I would expect you would have not difficulty there.

I do not know if your hip and knee surgery is recent. Knee surgery takes about 6 months of difficult PT, but hip surgery is much easier. I traveled to Istanbul from Florida just three weeks after hip surgery. It was not the most pleasant experience I have ever had, but it really was not that difficult. Perhaps by January you will be feeling a bit better.

Perigueux, France
Level Contributor
31 posts
38 reviews
7. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

Thank you so much; you have been so helpful. We have passed thru LAX several times when fitter and have not encountered too much trouble but obviously I was a bit concerned this time. I am almost bionic now as I have had a knee and hip, and will have another hip on my return with injections in the other knee. I use a cane but it is painful - incidentally my surgeon was delighted I was going out to Palm Springs as the heat is good for ailing joints and actually encouraged this trip. Thanks again!

Level Contributor
2,073 posts
217 reviews
8. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

Also, if you are staying in the uk for a good few days you may need a radar key for the public disabled toilets from http://www.radar.org.uk as they are normally locked with a radar key lock to stop abuse.

essex, uk
Level Contributor
2,781 posts
3 reviews
9. Re: Mobility advice for UK and US (LAX)

I generally find Gatwick and Heathrow very good with assistance, although at busy periods you may have to wait a while. ( we waited 45 mins once at Gatwick) . Assistance is usually organised by the airport authority not the airline, so whether you are fliybg BA or another airline , the help will be the same .The assistant guys are very helpful and will get your luggage off the carousel and take you to where your lift is outside the terminals.

Don't worry, you won't be left to fend for yourself but you may need to explain to the assistance person what your needs are. .