US Air announced today that they will be charging customers an additional $25 per bag for more than one checked bag. United Airlines instituted a similar policy a few weeks back, and to be honest I expect the other airlines to follow suit. After all, why shouldn’t someone who schleps three bags be charged more than the frugal packer who only has one? We are talking about space and weight on an aircraft here.
So how will this policy effect disabled travelers? In a word, it won’t. It’s still business as usual regarding medical equipment and supplies.
So you can still pack along additional medical equipment and supplies at no extra charge. Best bet is to pack all medical supplies in a separate box or bag and label them as “medical supplies”. Same goes with any equipment. Although it seems kind of silly to label that extra wheelchair as “medical equipment” it will cut down on the confusion in the long run.
Oh and if you decide you need to pack another suitcase of clothes, well you are still on the hook for those extra baggage charges. After all that’s not exactly medical equipment or supplies.
And if you have any trouble at the airport, just ask to speak to the Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO). All airlines are required to have one on duty (either in person or by phone) during airport operating hours. And of course, it never hurts to bone up on the ACAA before you travel. After all, forewarned is forearmed.
Have a good flight!
Edited on March 11, 2008 to add:
Well, it seems that United *is* going to charge for medical supplies and equipment (but not wheelchairs) beginning on May 5, 2008. This is noted on their website and I also blogged about it here.
US Airways notes on their website that personal assistive devices are exempt from the extra baggage charge, but they don’t specifically address other medical equipment or supplies. Best bet is to call your airline and clarify things before you head to the airport. Things be subject to change in the next few months until the dust settles.