10 years TravelScoot electric mobility scooter
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Air Travel With A Handicap Scooter With Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries have become increasingly popular due to their almost ten-fold energy density (power to weight) and superior longevity over lead-acid batteries. However, lithium batteries pose a certain fire risk, which is why transportation rules and regulations (mainly for air transport, but also land and sea) have been put in place governing their manufacture and carriage.

The IATA (International Air Transport Association) was the lead agency in this effort.


Special allowance for medical mobility devices accompanying handicapped passengers

Battery capacity is determined by multiplying Volts (V) by Ampere-hours (Ah) to get Watt-hours (Wh), which has been adopted as the measure for air transport. The upper limits for lithium-ion batteries for so-called Consumer Electronics such as cell phones and laptop computers are 100Wh, and 160Wh for tools and appliances. These limits are a bit low for electric vehicles, and therefore a special allowance was made for medical mobility devices accompanying handicapped passengers. This permits one main battery of up to 300Wh. In addition one spare battery of up to 300Wh or two 160Wh spares.

All lithium-ion batteries must be tested per UN38.3 by an internationally recognized facility, and this must be displayed on the battery. Most airlines adhere to the IATA guidelines, but a few, mostly small, airlines deviate and allow only 160Wh.

Below is battery documentation to download and print as well as a list of airlines that impose this limit and/or deviate from other standard practices (this list may not be comprehensive).

We generally recommend visiting the website of your airline and viewing their information for travelers with special needs. Tell your airline that you will be traveling with your mobility scooter.

All lithium-ion batteries must be tested per UN38.3 by an internationally recognized facility, and this must be displayed on the battery. Most airlines adhere to the IATA guidelines, but a few, mostly small, airlines deviate and allow only 160Wh.


Preparing your TravelScoot for air transport


1. Check-In


  • Remain seated during check-in. This allows the agent to recognize that you have a walking disability without further discussion.

  • It is not necessary to fold and pack your TravelScoot.

  • Stack any spare batteries on top of your main battery so they are in plain sight when going through security. Do not place any batteries in your luggage!

TravelScoot transports a suitcase

To ease the aircraft loading process we suggest removing the backrest early (possibly at home) and packing it with your luggage, if possible. This permits larger luggage pieces to be placed across the frame in front of the seat, if you are able and willing to get on and off your TravelScoot from behind.*

*We have recently introduced a seat plate modification that lets you install the backrest upside down. That eliminates the problem of where to put the backrest when it needs to be removed for stowage aboard a passenger plane. The spring button can remain installed in the bottom of the backrest elbow like before, or, with the aid of pair of pliers it can be relocated to the left or right side to allow inverted installation. With some skills this modification can be implemented also on an older TravelScoot

TravelScoot with backrest attachment pointing downwards

2. At the gate

Stay in the gate agent's field of vision; Passengers with disabilities as well as families with children get priority boarding.

3. Boarding the plane with the mobility scooter

Batteries are not permitted in the cargo hold, but must be removed, placed in a suitable case (our Travel set, for example) and carried by the passenger into the cabin.

Remove the battery/batteries, place in the padded Travel set bag, install the padded Travel set handlebar cover over the handlebars, and lower the handlebars to the lowest setting. Once the backrest is installed in the inverted position, just release the seat lever clamp, lift the seat up a bit, rotate it 180 degrees, lower again and close the lever clamp.

Lift up the TravelScoot with one hand

Now, the backrest is better protected against damage and loss, and also provides a handy center-of-gravity handle to allow easy single-handed lifting.

4. After landing

Remain seated until all other passengers have deplaned. It will take a while for your TravelScoot is either brought to the aircraft or you are taken to baggage claim by wheelchair.

It is a good idea to contact a flight attendant (maybe the one welcoming you on board and who has seen you handing off your TravelScoot) and ask them to assist you in getting “reunited” with your scooter at your destination.


Useful documents for transportation of batteries

Due to the heightened scrutiny paid to battery-operated equipment by airline staff, misunderstandings can and do occur regarding battery-powered mobility scooters and other medical assistive devices. That is why we suggest, for the time being, that you print out the following documents (these are also listed at the bottom of our airport-information page. These pertain to the TravelScoot lithium-ion battery, and consist of the:


China (All airlines and all airports)

China strictly observes a limit of batteries up to 160 Wh plus up to two spares.

Even in the event that travelers have initiated their flight in a country where the 300 Wh battery was permitted, it is quite probable that the battery/batteries will be conifiscated by Chinese authorities upon transfer reboarding or check-in in China. Even passengers with only an intermidiate layover in China are subjected to the same exacting security screening. Batteries are removed from the vehicles and thoroughly examined. The passenger then has one month to claim the confiscated battery, but they will still not be able to transport the battery by air.


Emirates

Mobility Aids: Folding mobility scooters using lithium-ion batteries: The lithium-ion battery must be removed from the scooter and transported in the cabin. These batteries shall not exceed 300 Watt-hours (Wh) in capacity if the mobility device is equipped with one battery. If the device uses two batteries, they shall not exceed 160 Wh each. One additional (spare) battery of up 300Wh, or two additional (spare) batteries up to 160Wh each are permitted, and also must be transported in the cabin.


Air Canada

Permits up to 300 Wh.


Airfrance/KLM

Interestingly, they belong together but have different rules. AF allow 300 Wh but KLM allow 160 Wh only.

Lithium-ion battery powered wheel chairs and other mobility aids for passengers with walking disabilities: Removable batteries with a capacity exceeding 300 Watt-hours (Wh) are not permitted on board the aircraft.


Air Asia

How can my batteries be taken on board?

The lithium-ion battery capacity cannot exceed 300 Watt-hours (Wh) for mobility devices using one battery. For devices using two lithium-ion batteries, there individual capacity cannot exceed 160 Wh each.

One additional (spare) battery not exceeding 300 Wh, or two additional (spare) batteries not exceeding 160 Wh each, may be transported in the cabin, and must be placed in a manufacture-sourced battery pouch.


IcelandAir

IcelandAir has no specific published policy towards transporting the TravelScoot, but here is a recent response from IcelandAir’s special sevices dept.


Eurowings

Permits max. 160 Wh plus an equal spare battery.


Norwegian Airlines

Norwegian Airlines permit 160 Wh batteries only

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