Monday, August 13, 2012
American Airlines and the TravelScoot
I recently returned from a trip to San Francisco on American Airlines with my husband Alan, and our friends Melissa and Greg. Melissa and I both have TravelScoots. She has one lithium ion battery and I have two. Before arriving at the airport, we let the airline know that we would be using the scooters. After we checked our luggage we went through security. We each got off our scooters and walked through the screening point. Security took our scooters and checked them. Part of their check includes swabbing them. I suppose they are looking for some evidence of explosives. If you don't walk through security you automatically get a full pat down, so it's to your advantage to walk through if you can.
After going through security we found our gate and waited for the gate agent to arrive so we could get gate check tags for our scooters. They issued the tags and we attached them near the clamp you use to raise and lower the handlebars. Don't attach it to the handlebars because the tags will get covered up when you fold the handlebars down and cover them before you get on the plane.
We always arrive early for the flight so we can be first in line with the gate agent AND first in line to get on the plane. Once they give us permission to board we drive our scoots to the door of the plane. Things start moving pretty quickly then, and our husbands get in on the action to make it go quicker. Alan works on removing the batteries and storing them in our TravelScoot travel bag. (A picture is at the bottom of this page: http://travelscoot.com/prices.htm.) I drop the handlebars and cover them with the protective case that comes with the kit. Melissa and Greg do their version of this same step, and then we all board the plane.
When we arrive at the next airport we wait until last to leave the plane. We do this to give the crew time to retrieve our scooters. When we get off the plane the scooters are usually waiting there at the door for us, and we put the batteries back on and take the protective cover off the handlebars and we're on our way.
That's a summary of how things usually work, but it seems like each flight is just a little different, and sometimes you need to educate the crew on the best way to get you and your scoot to your destination. We left from the Baton Rouge airport, then changed planes at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, and our final destination was the San Francisco airport. The crew is usually fascinated with how light and portable the TravelScoot is, but they don't always understand the battery. On our first flight the crew had been instructed to take the battery and tape off the connectors, then wrap it. We explained that there wasn't anything to tape off, and told them that we always take the battery on the plane. Some of the staff do not seem to understand batteries beyond wanting to know that it's non-spillable, so I usually leave it at that unless the conversation goes further and then I'll explain that they're lithium ion. Mostly what the crew wants to do is get everyone boarded and seated, and leave at the scheduled time.
The crew seems accustomed to dealing with much heavier scooters with sealed lead acid batteries, and they may assume you're going to leave the battery on so they can drive the scooter to where it's stored. Instead, we remove the batteries and tell them the scooter only weighs 29 lbs. and that the crew always takes the scooter at the door of the plane and stores it where the baby strollers are stored. This worked on three of our flights and the crew put the scoots on an elevator right by the door of the plane to transfer them to the ground where they could be loaded. On the fourth flight two crew members took the scooters and walked them back out into the terminal and went down a different elevator with them. We were able to take the picture above from the plane.