US-based airlines are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act. So they must accept for transport all devices that assists a passenger with a disability in coping with the effects of his/her disability. These include all power wheelchairs and scooters. They are not permitted to charge a fee to accommodate them.
That said, we recommend that you advise the airline well in advance of your travel that you're traveling with a power mobility scooter. Also, it will be important that you allow lots of extra time on your day of travel to allow the airline to properly stow your scooter.
When you arrive at the airport on your day of travel, you'll likely be instructed to ride your scooter to the departure gate. Baggage handlers will be there to stow your scooter. Do take a moment to show them how your particular model can be configured for stowage- show them how the steering tiller can be lowered, etc.
At your destination, the airline will bring your scooter to you at the arrival gate.
Most non-US based airlines who operate at US airports will also comply with ADA regulations but you'll want to check with them when you're booking your travel.
Click here for more information directly from the US Department Of Transportation website.
A special note about scooter batteries
Some airlines may have questions about the batteries in your scooter. If your scooter uses a Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery as nearly all scooters do, your airline will or is supposed to accept it without any further issues. It's also acceptable for cruise ships. In the unlikely event your carrier asks for safety documentation about the batteries, we can supply you with that.
If your scooter is powered by lithium ion batteries as most folding scooter are, the airline will very likely have further questions about the battery pack related to fire safety. They may require that you remove the battery pack from the scooter and carry it on board with you. Or they may even refuse to allow the battery pack at all which they can do.
If you're shopping for a scooter now and contemplating needing to take it with you when you travel by air, do check with us or the manufacturer to see what the rules would be for transport of the lithium ion battery pack on airplanes. Some scooter models offer two lithium ion battery pack options- one for general use and then a smaller one that's approved for airline transport. To keep your travel inconvenience to a minimum, consider a scooter powered by Sealed Lead Acid batteries as opposed to Lithium Ion batteries.
Cruise ships who sail under a US flag will also comply with the ADA regulations and accommodate a power mobility scooter or power wheelchair and charge no fees. You'll want to check with the cruise line at the time of booking for the exact boarding procedure.