Recently I flew with my mother from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. As my mother is less mobile, I applied for wheelchair service for my mom. Below is my experience travelling using Thai Airway’s wheelchair assistance. Thai Airways do not charge any additional fees or charges for wheelchair assistance.
How to apply for wheelchair service via Thai Airways:
1. Proceed with ticket booking as per normal- remember to select seats
First, I booked my air tickets online via the Thai Airways official website. I avoided using any third party app to book since I will need to liaise with Thai Airways later via email for the wheelchair service.
Important: During the booking process, you would arrive at a page where there is an option to select your seat. Try to select the seat as closest as possible to to the entrance on the left side. We booked economy class and I manage to select seats 33C and 33D which is the 3rd row, being separated by an aisle as there is no options for other seats. You can request to change the seating to the front row on the day of the flight when you check-in, subjected to availability.
Do note that the first and the second rows are not allowed for selection. It is reserved for special needs passengers, ie disabled, passengers with injuries or less mobile in which would be assigned by the counter staff during the check-in process.
Another option is that you may choose to go through the help of a travel agency to help with the ticket booking if you wish the agent to make the arrangements for you. However, an agent have told me that they still cannot secure the first and second rows as the staff need to sight the condition during check-in…. priority is given to passengers who really needed the front seats.
2. Email to their staff to request for wheelchair service. You need to provide Thai airways with minimum 48 hours notice from the flight
Do this as soon as you can because it takes the staff about 48 hours to reply and there would be a few emails back and forth. The email address varies from country to country hence please check their website for the email address which is dependent on the country that you are flying out from. For example, I flew from KLIA, hence I emailed to their KL office.
In my case, I am not using the airport’s wheelchair but using my mom’s own wheelchair. I was told if I am using my own wheelchair, I would need to wheel the passenger myself. As I did not want to check in my mother’s wheelchair and prefer to bring it along, I opted to wheel my mom myself. When you email the Thai airways service, please provide the following information:
a. Your name and best contact number
Please provide a contact number where the staff is able to contact you in case further clarification is required.
b. Flight number, date and time of departure
c. Flight booking confirmation number (I basically forwarded the official receipt from Thai airways that is addressed to my mom and then changed the title and wrote the additional email)
d. Details of your wheelchair
if you are using your own wheelchair, you must provide the dimensions and type of the wheelchair- ie its folded height, width and length as well as its weight. You would also need to provide the type of wheelchair whether it is any of the following:
WCBD – DRY CELL BATTERY/NON SPILLABLE BATTERY.
WCBW – WET CELL BATTERY/SPILLABLE BATTERY.
WCMP – MANUAL POWER WHEELCHAIR. IT MUST BE COLLAPSIBLE.
WCLB – LITHIUM-ION BATTERY
You may need to manually measure and weight the wheelchair if you do not have the particulars. In my case, my mom’s wheelchair is identical with one that is available in Amazon- hence I took the dimensions and weight of the chair with the photo and send it over via email.
The passenger’s own wheelchair can be used up to the cabin door’s entrance, where the airline staff will remove and park in the loading compartment under the aircraft where baby strollers are being placed. After that, the passenger would need to walk or if really cannot, there is a transfer chair that can be used. I opted for a walker for my mom to wait the distance which I also notified in the email. The walker can be brought along to the cabin and the staff can later placed in a holding section of the cabin.
Both the walker and the wheelchair would need to be tagged- tags would be provided by the counter staff during check-in.
For those who wish to check in the wheelchair, I was told you can do so but provided the weight of the wheelchair plus the total luggage does not exceed the allocated weight allowance (from KL to Bangkok the total allowance is 30kg of checked in luggage). However, there may be limitation to certain types of wheelchairs that you are allowed to check in hence always send an email or call their office to notify.
e. Specify if the passenger walk a little or is really disabled?
If the passenger totally cannot walk, you would need to notify via email. This is because sometimes, the airplane is not able to land at the place where there is a connecting bridge if the flights on that day is very full where wheelchair can be easily used. This happened to a friend of mine when she flew with her mom on a Saturday where upon reaching Survanabhumi airport, all the passegers have to alight from the aircraft via stairs and then be taken by feeder buses to the main terminal.
The staff would then notify the airport so that in case it happens if the aircraft cannot park at the proper gate, the airport would arrange for special assistance using airlift to wheel the passenger down from the cabin and arrange to bring the passenger to the main terminal.
For my case, there was a specially helpful staff from the KL office called Adelene who went the extra mile to call me up to check to my mom could walk. I told her my mom would really struggle if need to walk down the stairs- she would require people to help her and the rest of the passengers would probably need to wait 30 minutes for her to struggle down the stairs. Adelene said she understood and would proceed to do the necessary.
After the information is all confirmed, the airline would send you a confirmation email on the revised itinerary indicating of the special service required.
I was informed that passengers who require wheelchair service should not check-in online. They should check-in manually. On the day of check-in, try to arrive early (counters usually open 3 hours prior to the flight). And the staff would not require us to queue with other customers if there is a passenger on wheelchair.
In KLIA, if you are using your own wheelchair, you need to wheel the passenger yourself. So you need to figure out on how to get to the airport with all your luggage and then keep your hand luggage to a minimum to help your wheelchair travelling companion along.
On the other hand, if you opt for the wheelchair service (meaning use the wheelchair from the airport), you can go to the counter when you arrive and the staff can accompany you to the parking or the entrance to help wheel the passenger in.
During check-in, I was not able to obtain the most front row as the seats were not available. Hence I was grateful during the booking I managed to secure the third row.
Fortunately there were 2 friends who were travelling with us that day that helped between the wheeling of my mom and the hand luggage which I have been really grateful.
Passengers on wheelchair would be the first to enter the aircraft and the last to leave the aircraft.
During the flight, my mom wanted to use the washroom. The flight attendant helped to take out the walker and she walked to the lavatory using her walker.
Arrival at Survanabhumi airport
Upon arrival, we waited for all the other passengers to leave the aircraft before we leave the cabin. We also needed to give time for the staff to remove the wheelchair from the loading compartment.
In Survanabhumi, it was different than KLIA. Their staff came to help to push my mom on a wheelchair with me to accompany her. The Immigration lanes in Survanabhumi airport have a very long queue and we were allowed to go to a special lane for wheelchair (there is still a short queue). After that, staff can wheel you to collect luggage and then all the way to the waiting vehicle or until you meet someone that can come over to pick you up.
Overall, I am very happy with the professional services of the Thai Airways and the profesionalism of the staff at both KLIA and Survanabhumi airports that have made my travel with my mom so comfortable and convenient.