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Customer wheelchair equipment

United Airlines accepts one wheelchair or other assistive device per customer in addition to the checked baggage allowance at no additional charge. We accept all types of wheelchairs and scooters including folding, collapsible, non-folding, manual or powered. Excess, oversized and/or overweight baggage charges may apply for checking additional wheelchair(s) that are used for recreational purposes.

Advance notice of forty-eight (48) hours and an hour in addition to the published airport check-in processing time of your originating airport is required for powered wheelchairs if the passenger will be traveling on an aircraft of 60 seats or less.

Checking your equipment

Your wheelchair can be checked at the ticket counter and/or gate. We appreciate you arriving at the airport at least one hour before departure if your powered equipment requires disassembly. This time helps ensure that proper handling is accomplished. Customers may use United's wheelchair equipment after checking personal wheelchairs. Checking and returning your wheelchair at the gate can also be arranged. Please advise us in advance if you request use of your equipment at airports for connecting flights. Please note, we do our best, but damage does sometimes occur, particularly with heavier powered wheelchairs.

Helpful suggestion: having written instructions about various items on your device will assist airport personnel as they load and unload it. You can design your own set of instructions, or can use one that we have created by downloading the wheelchair information card. Fill out as much information as you can and affix the card to the device. Keep a copy for yourself as well and have it available in case the one on your device gets lost for some reason.

Manual wheelchairs

Customers, who identify themselves for preboarding, have priority to have their folding wheelchair stowed onboard upon request. All of United's aircraft have adequate space to accommodate at least one adult-sized wheelchair.

Customers' manual wheelchairs can be checked for stowage in the cargo bin at either the ticket counter or gate. Please provide as much information as possible to our employees to ensure proper handling and loading. Detachable items such as seat cushions, removable sideguards and footrests can be carried in the cabin or tagged and stowed with the chair in the cargo bin.

Powered equipment, carts and wheelchairs

Powered equipment will not be disassembled; the batteries will be left attached, whenever the scooter and/or wheelchair will fit upright through the aircraft bin door. If the size of the aircraft bin door prohibits this, airport personnel may ask you for instructions on how to disassemble your equipment. It is helpful to have the assembly/disassembly instructions with you along with the type of battery used. We encourage you to take advantage of the wheelchair information card that provides our staff with information on your device. Download a copy of the wheelchair information card.

Batteries on powered equipment will remain attached whenever the scooter and/or wheelchair will fit upright through the aircraft bin door. Batteries must be identified as either spillable or non-spillable so the ground staff can establish proper dangerous goods handling. Dry cell and gel cell batteries are considered non-spillable and fewer handling requirements are necessary. It is helpful if you have this information ready and available for our employees. Battery packs showing cracks and/or damage will not be accepted for transportation.

Spillable battery: Wet cell batteries are considered spillable and special preparation must be made before being transported by air. The battery will be accepted for transportation providing the following items are met:

  • Battery has no obvious defects upon visual inspection, which includes removal of the battery where necessary
  • The battery is disconnected and terminals are insulated to prevent short circuits
  • The wheelchair or mobility aid can be loaded, stowed, secured and unloaded in an upright position
  • If the battery is removed, it must be carried in strong, rigid battery box approved by United Airlines under the following conditions:
    • The packaging must be leak-tight and impervious to battery fluid. An inner liner may be used to satisfy this requirement if there is absorbent material placed inside of the liner and the liner has a leak-proof closure
    • The battery must be protected against short circuits, secured upright in the packaging and be packaged with enough compatible absorbent material to completely absorb liquid contents in the event of rupture of the battery

Non-spillable battery: Dry cell and gel cell batteries are considered non-spillable and fewer requirements are necessary for their air transportation. If your wheelchair or mobility aid is powered by a non-spillable battery and can be stowed upright in the cargo bin of the aircraft, the battery should not need to be removed providing the following:

  • There must be at least one effective means designed into the wheelchair or mobility aid in order to prevent accidental activation or possible short-circuiting
  • If no effective way of preventing accidental activation of the device can be determined, then the battery cables will be removed and the battery terminals will be insulated to prevent short circuits
  • The battery must be securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid and fully enclosed in a rigid housing that is properly marked

Lithium ion battery wheelchairs or mobility devices: Lithium ion batteries are classified independently of other battery types. Lithium batteries may overheat and ignite in certain conditions and, once ignited, may be difficult to extinguish. Lithium batteries are considered a hazardous material for which the following restrictions apply:

  • There must be at least one effective means designed into the wheelchair or mobility aid in order to prevent accidental activation or possible short-circuiting
  • Federal Regulations allow for one large lithium ion battery to be transported installed in the device and up to two spare batteries. Each battery may not exceed 300 watt hours.

The watt-hour rating is a measure by which lithium ion batteries are regulated. Lithium ion batteries manufactured after January 1, 2009, are required to be marked with the watt-hour rating.

Most lithium ion batteries marketed to consumers (for personal electronic devices) are below 100 watt-hours. If you are unsure of the watt-hour rating of your lithium ion battery, contact the manufacturer of your device.

Any spare lithium ion batteries with less than 100 watt hours of lithium ion may be carried in the passenger cabin of the aircraft only, not in the cargo hold. Spare batteries must be effectively protected against short circuiting by:

  • Packing each battery or each battery-powered device when, in fully enclosed inner packaging made of non-conductive material (such as a plastic bag)
  • Separating or packing batteries in a manner to prevent contact with other batteries, devices or conductive materials (e.g., metal) in the packaging
  • Ensuring exposed terminals or connectors are protected with non-conductive caps, non-conductive tape, or by other appropriate means
  • Lithium metal batteries (non-rechargeable) with more than two grams of lithium content are forbidden on commercial passenger aircraft.

For more information about traveling safely with batteries, go to
http://safetravel.dot.gov/quick_chart.html