This detailed analysis of a wheelchair accessible flight from U.S. to Paris was from Summer 2022.
Wheelchair Accessibility of Seattle-Tacoma Airport
We flew Delta Air Lines into Charles de Gaulle airport from Seattle, Washington. The flight was a little over 10 hours. The Seattle airport had had trouble arranging for accessibility workers to assist with the aisle chair (despite calling for them many times and in advance). The gate agent permitted everyone else to board the plane while we waited for them to arrive, so I was lifted on with everyone onboard. Not ideal. Plus we were worried about my scooter making it to the cargo area with such a short turnaround, but thankfully we were able to track my scooter using an AirTag to confirm it was onboard.
Wheelchair Accessibility of Charles de Gaulle Airport
CDG’s Paris Aeroport website provides an overview of the services available to people with disabilities.
- Step 1 requires passengers with disabilities to inform the airline of any accommodations or services at least 48 hours before departure.
- Step 2 requires passengers to inform the Mobility Assistance team when they arrive at the airport by 1) calling from a customer assistance terminal, 2) checking in at an airline counter, or 3) informing an airline employee upon landing.
- At that point, the Mobility Assistance team will dispatch an agent to “escort you within the terminal providing assistance at every step: passport control, check-in or baggage reclaim, customs. You have priority access at every stage of the security checks.”
My experience matched this description perfectly. I had called Delta upon purchasing my tickets to change my seats and to inform them that I needed the aisle chair. Then, as we were preparing to land, I reminded the flight attendants that I needed the aisle chair and 3 people to assist with lifting me into the aisle chair. They passed that along to the gate agent, who organized the 3 people and an aisle chair. We waited until my scooter was brought to the gate, and then the 3 people lifted me into the aisle chair, wheeled me off the plane, and then lifted me into my scooter. At least one of the workers spoke English, and they all listened so I could direct the lift. Once I was in my scooter, one of the assisting people escorted us through the terminal (including waiting for me to be able to finally use the bathroom), through passport control (bypassing long lines), and then helped us procure a taxi. He stayed with us until the taxi arrived and I was safely loaded into it. I was very impressed…and very happy.
Tip: CDG is a confusing and large airport–we went through numerous elevators, multiple control points, and walked/scooted for a long distance. It was so confusing that numerous other people would stop to ask our escort person for directions. Even if you don’t need physical help (e.g., being pushed), I recommend permitting the escort to guide you through the airport and help streamline everything. It just makes life easier, and it is their job.
Wheelchair Accessible Taxi to Paris
Our escort talked to the taxi dispatcher outside the airport, who then called for a wheelchair accessible taxi. We waited for about 20 minutes for the taxi to arrive. The driver unloaded the ramp, positioned the tiedowns, and put the seats down to make room for my scooter. He then helped guide me into the back of the van, and listened as I instructed on how to attach the tiedowns to the scooter. The ride was relatively smooth, partly because we spent most of it in a traffic jam and were not going at high speeds or taking too many turns.
The driver dropped me off curbside to our hotel. He unloaded the ramp and then guided me out of the van. He then helped me navigate traffic so I could safely scoot down the street to the curb cut (about 20′ away). It was a smooth experience and I cannot applaud Paris enough for making wheelchair-accessible taxis available–too few cities do this, and it is a real problem to independence.
Note: In addition to the taxi dispatcher, Paris’s Taxi G7 offers wheelchair accessible taxis that can be called on-demand and/or pre-arranged. You can order a taxi by calling 01-47-39-00-91 or by using the app. We found that we could walk (or take city buses) faster than calling a taxi due to traffic congestion around Paris, but it was very comforting knowing a taxi was an option.