If you use a wheelchair and require support to help you remain upright and comfortable, it is highly unlikley that you will be able to bring your specialist seat on board the aircraft to use. For this reason, there are a number of products which can be used in the cabin to help you remain comfortable. These are available to try at our Tryb4ufly assessment centres, and also to hire.
It is very important to check with your airline at least 48 hours before you travel that you can bring this equipment on board. This is because each airline has its own set of rules regarding what can and cannot be used on board specific aircraft, and their staff are trained to use. Airlines registered outside the EU will sometimes have different regulations that they will need to comply with, and all supports must be used in conjunction with the aircraft safety seat belt.
The MERU TravelChair provides disabled children with a broad range of physical support when travelling in an aircraft. The size of a small suitcase, it is approved for use on aircraft by EASA and opens up to provide head, shoulder, waist, hip and leg support.
It can only be used in locations where there is no passenger sat directly behind the occupant of the TravelChair, for example where there is a bulkhead wall directly behind, or at the rear of the aircraft. There is a size and weight restriction and it is only for aircraft, NOT vehicular use. The training video is available here.
Many airlines allow it's use on board and some have their own fleet of TravelChairs provided free of charge to customers. As with any additional support it is essential to check with your airline in advance if you wish to bring on board.
Burnett Body Support
The Burnett Body Support is a bean filled cushion which can be easily moulded and set into a shape when you board the aircraft and placed into the aircraft seat. It comes in a range of sizes and different covers and there are supports for the head and neck to make travelling more comfortable. It can also be used in conjunction with Harness type supports to provide additional upper body support.
The Stabilo Cushion is similar to the Burnet Body Support and comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The cushion can be instantly re-shaped on demand to relieve sensitive areas or modelled so that it supports the user’s body as required. The ‘Comfortable’, ‘Comfortable Plus’ and ‘Comfortable Plus Duo’ are popular for use in aircraft seat.
Crelling Harness Model no.27
The Crelling Harness provides the ‘Model 27’ for passengers who are generally adult sized and require upper body support. There are 3 sizes available. Those with a suffix ‘SB’ have a safety buckle which is tamper proof and suitable for people with challenging behaviours. The models are 27I (Infant to 5 years) 27A (5 to 8 years) and 27B (9 years to adult).
It is essential that passengers check with their airline before they fly and to note that most airlines will restrict the locations that it can be used, to those where there is no passenger sat directly behind.
The Cares harness
The Cares harness is a lightweight product which provides additional support for children when flying weighing between 22 and 44lbs (10 and 20kg) It can be used by disabled children. A training video is available on the home page. It is quick to install and lightweight.
If the occupant’s weight is over 44 pounds (20kg) there are some important considerations. It can only be used in aircraft seats where the bulkhead is directly behind. Also if using on board an American registered airline there is an ‘exemption’ process which you need to apply from the FAA. This takes approx 6 – 8 weeks.
A version called ‘Special Cares Airplane Safety Harness’ is available for children and adults over 5 feet tall. The same restrictions apply.
Wedge cushions can be a used to help modify the seat angle of the aircraft seat. By using the cushion with the thick end of the wedge in the corner of the aircraft seat means that the angle of your seating is slightly increased. Bringing your own cushion on board is generally acceptable however please check with your airline before you travel.
Universal elastic strap. Some passengers require additional body support around the waist. Many aircraft seat are ‘snug’ so having a moderate amount of upper body support is all that’s required. Please check with your airline if you wish to use these as they can have an effect on the passenger seated behind, meaning that your seat location may need consideration.
For passengers that require a small degree of extra support or comfort there are many affordable and readily available small cushions that can be used and brought on board. Some cushions are bright and colourful and have a character theme which may be helpful for some young children. You can find these here.
Always check with your airline before you fly if you want to bring use your child’s car seat in the cabin. Surprisingly, airlines have different approaches regarding their carriage, with some accepting particular car seats and others refusing car seats completely.