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Air travel - mobility scooter batteries on planes

trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
Hi, new member. I recently booked a foreign holiday. At time of booking I made everybody aware of my mobility issues and that I would need to take my mobility scooter. The airline requested details of my scooter then said  they would not take it owing to it having a lithium battery. Where do I go for help with this?

Replies

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Member Posts: 7,732 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @trudge
    Welcome to the community, I have just had a search about this and all airlines have different rules around batteries and flying.

    Could you ask them if there is any way around this? For example if you disconnected the battery and carried it separately?

    If not, is there any way you could rent or hire a scooter at your destination?

    Let us know a little more and let's see what information we can find!
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Hi Sam, thanks for your response. At the moment my travel agent is making a sterling effort in dealing with Air Mauritius. The airline's own website is full of contradiction. For baggage carried in the hold it states that it will carry a powered mobility device. Lithium batteries are not mentioned specifically but the rules surrounding different batteries are laid out. Dry batteries being in this list, yet they are refusing to carry my scooter due to the battery. Looking on the internet I can find two places on Mauritius that hire wheelchairs (not powered) but neither is near our resort. I have purchased a wheelchair as a back up but this is not the ideal choice. I was hoping that there would be some internationally recognised legislation.
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Member Posts: 7,732 Disability Gamechanger
    Oh blimey! How stressful for you!! 

    @simonsable I wondered if you had anything to add?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    You wouldn't believe the toing and froing with Air Mauritius. I've done loads of research myself, including Civil Aviation Authority, but just get more confused. I was just hoping somebody might be able to point me to a one off internationally recognised solution.
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    You wouldn't believe the toing and froing with Air Mauritius. I've done loads of research myself, including Civil Aviation Authority, but just get more confused. I was just hoping somebody might be able to point me to a one off internationally recognised solution.
  • simonsablesimonsable Member Posts: 76 Connected
    @Sam_Scope
    I have a manual wheelchair so I do not know this area very well

  • markyboymarkyboy Member Posts: 374 Pioneering
    Hi i have just taken my mobility scooter to Australia i had the same problem with Emirates but most scooter batteries are dry cell sealed units 
    You need to go a mobility shop and get your battery checked when you take the batteries out of the casing they should have printed on it that it complies with air transport regulations all you need to do is photograph this and take to the check in desk 
    originally Emirates said no we cannot take your scooter as we do not know what battery it is but after i read to them what was printed on the battery they accepted it .
    Also if your battery is not compliant you may be able to buy new ones that are to fit your scooter
  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Member Posts: 7,732 Disability Gamechanger
    @Jean_Scope do you have any ideas about this?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thank you markyboy for your response. The battery can't be replaced as it's a sealed unit designed, I believe, to fit my specific scooter. The reason I bought this particular model was the manufacturer's claim it could be taken aboard an aircraft. They have sent me a six page sheet outlining all aspects of it's manufacture. Will start digging for more info. Thanks again.
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 532 Pioneering

    Hi @Sam_Scope

    Thank you for inviting me to be part of this discussion. I do have some thoughts and information but I don’t think it will help with resolving the immediate issue for @trudge

    My understanding that the “internationally recognised solution” that trudge is seeking doesn’t exist.

    The IATA (International Air Transport Association) is the airlines trade association covering 83% of all air traffic. They offer advice to their members on dangerous goods carried by passengers which makes reference to ‘battery powered mobility aids’ see https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/dgr/Documents/passenger-provisions-table-23A-en.pdf but really the bottom line is the approval of the operator must be sought by the passenger. Thus, individual airlines have great freedom to decide their own working rules and so no universal agreement is in place. In many instances the airline leaves the pilot of the specific aircraft to make the final decision. If he or she isn’t convinced, on the day, of the safety of your batteries they are not obligated to transport them.

    Hence, we end up with confusing and contradictory information between different airlines and sometimes even within a specific airline. Airlines operating from head offices based in countries that have disability equality legislation seem to make more effort to provide clear guidance. So, for example for those flying in USA the guidance comes from the United States Department of Transportation and uses the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (see Section 17) https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&SID=bba5ad06518b529c94e1d67a3270196b&ty=HTML&h=L&r=SECTION&n=49y2.1.1.3.12.1.25.5 and is pretty clear and comprehensive.

    In most instances there will be different rules for ‘wet’ batteries, than for ‘dry’ batteries.

    Also in most instances it seems that airlines will make concessions for batteries used for mobility equipment for disabled people, i.e. different rules from the rules that they would impose for the same battery being used for a none disability specific vehicle (such as a golf cart) so it is important to ensure that they are applying the correct ‘mobility device’ regulations and not their general battery regulations.

    To further complicate things for trudge according to Wikipedia  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Mauritius#Headquarters Air Mauritius is one of the many airlines that ‘codeshare’. A codeshare agreement is an aviation business arrangement in which two or more airlines share the same flight. Sharing, in this sense, means that each airline publishes and markets the flight under its own airline designator and flight number as part of its published timetable or schedule. A seat can be purchased on each airline's designator and flight number, but is operated by only one of these cooperating airlines, commonly called the "operating carrier", or "administrating carrier". Therefore, the regulations applied on the day will be those of the “operating carrier”, which might not be the airline you actually booked with.

    So, having painted a picture of doom and gloom here are some tips that I have gleamed from various places on the internet.

    • Recognize that flying with a battery powered mobility devise can be problematic, allow time prior to booking a flight to correspond with the airline/travel agent.

    • Prior to entering into corresponding be really sure about what batteries you have. Photograph them, measure them, and know exactly what is written on them and use this information in your correspondence.

    • Even when everything has been agreed with the airline it is wise to have a copy of the agreement on you at the airport just in case you have to convince the aircraft staff working that day.

    • If possible arrive at the airport early so that you have extra time to resolve an issue should it occur.

    • Consider taking a back up means of getting around, such as a manual wheelchair with you. As even if your airline safely delivers your powered mobility device to your destination it could be really problematic if spares or repairs are required.

    • Feedback – give the airline/agent your praise or complaints. Share your experiences and recommendations with other disabled people via social media etc.

     

    ….and personally, I would say to try not to let the potential problems limit your dreams! Most problems of this nature can be resolved given time and determination.

     

    Best Wishes

     

    Jean

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Member Posts: 7,732 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks so much @Jean_Scope - you are brilliant!!
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thanks Jean for your comprehensive response. After checking out the legislation of both ICAO and IATA, I have shifted the subject of my ire from the airline to the scooter manufacture. It seems that if the legislation is strictly adhered then it's difficult to carry a lithium battery much more powerful than the one in your mobile phone. I do believe, though, that the battery is not inherently dangerous and a concession under the circumstsnces would not put the aircraft in danger. This differs hugely from my scooter's manufacturer who say it is perfect for air travel. Still plugging away in hope,  with a manual wheelchair as back-up.
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thanks Jean for your comprehensive response. After checking out the legislation of both ICAO and IATA, I have shifted the subject of my ire from the airline to the scooter manufacture. It seems that if the legislation is strictly adhered then it's difficult to carry a lithium battery much more powerful than the one in your mobile phone. I do believe, though, that the battery is not inherently dangerous and a concession under the circumstsnces would not put the aircraft in danger. This differs hugely from my scooter's manufacturer who say it is perfect for air travel. Still plugging away in hope,  with a manual wheelchair as back-up.
  • trudgetrudge Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Finally, a response from Air Mauritius. My mobility scooter isn't going. I sure hope Mauritius is flat.
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 532 Pioneering

    Hi @trudge

    That's a disappointing outcome. Hope you still have a fabulous holiday regardless.

    Best Wishes

    Jean

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

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