AirAsia – Aisle Chair In Every Aircraft

Model of the aisle chair that AirAsia will equip all its aircrafts with
Model of the aisle chair that AirAsia will equip all its aircraft with.
Photo by Wuan.

A wheelchair user nicely tucked in an airplane seat would feel pretty helpless without the means to move around. Never mind that the seat is luxuriously leather. On long-haul flights, I usually inform the airline of my needs well in advance to ensure that they are prepared. For me, one of the most useful piece of equipment inside an aircraft is an aisle chair. I need that to get to the toilet. The aisle chair is also important for me to get into and out of aircrafts at the airport.

Malaysia Airlines aisle chair at Penang International Airport for moving passengers from the airport into the aircraft
Malaysia Airlines aisle chair at Penang International Airport for moving passengers from the airport into the aircraft.

Therefore it was great news for wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility when AirAsia Group Chief Executive Director Dato’ Tony Fernandes announced that all of AirAsia’s planes will be equipped with at least one aisle chair. This will clear a lot of anxieties for disabled passengers who need mobility inside aircrafts to empty their bladder in the privacy of the toilets.

Japan Airlines aisle chair at Narita International Airport for moving passengers from the airport into the aircraft
Japan Airlines aisle chair at Narita International Airport for moving passengers from the airport into the aircraft.

The aisle chair is actually a wheelchair without the large back wheels that we normally see. Small casters are used in place. It has a narrow seat and high back to fit into the narrow aisles inside aircrafts. The chair has 2 straps – one a diagonal restraint for the torso and the other to keep the legs close together. It is not a comfortable thing to be in but is essential for mobility. The chair is also very portable and easily foldable into very compact configurations for easy storage.

Japan Airlines aisle chair at Narita International Airport with the large wheels removed
Japan Airlines aisle chair at Narita International Airport with the large wheels removed.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

3 thoughts on “AirAsia – Aisle Chair In Every Aircraft”

  1. Please forgive me for being so ignorant and straight-forward, but how does sitting on the aisle chair facilitates going to the toilet? Is it because it’s smaller so it can easily fit into the toilet in most aircraft?

    Peter:
    When flying, our wheelchairs have to be stored in the cargo hold. We are also unable to use the wheelchair inside the plane because of the narrow aisle and also due to international aviation regulations. As such, we lose our mobility. An aisle chair is small enough to fit into the aisle.

    Whenever there is a need to go to the toilet, we transfer from the aircraft seat to the aisle chair and the cabin crew will push us to the toilet to do whatever we have to do there.

    An aisle chair is still to large too fit into the toilet. In my case, I perform intermittent catheterisation outside the toilet with the curtain pulled across for some privacy. After I am done, I empty the contents of the kidney dish into the toilet and wash up.

  2. seems like they are doing something to better suit their “everyone can fly” motto, not bad. 😀

    Peter:
    We are all anxiously waiting for the day we can fly with AirAsia. This will be a momentous event in the history of Malaysia’s disability movement.

  3. I googled “intermittent catheterisation” and now I have a better idea. Thanks for the explanation 🙂

    Peter:
    😀 You are most welcomed.

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