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United Rolls Out New Feature To Match Wheelchair Users With the Appropriate Aircraft

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Nick Ellis
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Nick Ellis

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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Airlines are constantly looking for ways to make journeys more accessible for all types of travelers. Now, United has introduced a new feature on its online channels that will make it easier for those who use wheelchairs to find flights that best accommodate their wheelchair.

The move comes after United handled over 200,000 checked wheelchairs in 2023, according to a press release from the airline.

Let’s dive into all the details of this new feature from United.

New United Feature Helps Wheelchair Flyers Find Their Ideal Flight

United collaborated with its own Accessible Travel Advisory Board, the United Spinal Association, and Numotion to design this new feature, which it says is a first in the airline industry.

Currently in beta testing, but soon to be available through united.com and the United mobile app (iOS, Android), this new accessibility feature will allow passengers to select a wheelchair filter when viewing their flight results. From there, customers will be able to input the dimensions of their devices.

Then, the search results will display itineraries that feature aircraft that will accommodate the size of the wheelchair — this is important because the size of the door to the cargo hold varies between aircraft.

United Wheelchair filter image mobile phone
Image Credit: United Airlines

Further, United will allow customers who use wheelchairs to get a refund for any difference in fare paid to take a more expensive flight on the same day and between the same origin and destination if they’re forced to do so because their wheelchair would not fit on their preferred itinerary.

In addition to these new online features, United is currently testing a “pilot program” at its Houston (IAH) hub that will assist passengers if their wheelchair happens to be damaged or delayed during travel. The airline is testing adjustable wheelchair cushions from Permobil that can affix to loaner wheelchairs and reimburse passengers for transportation costs incurred if they prefer to wait for their wheelchair to arrive at a location away from the airport.

United’s Other Accessibility Initiatives

United has been consistently making strides to improve accessibility for all passengers flying with the airline — here are a few more examples of recent changes it’s made:

  • Technology that notifies ramp agents that a wheelchair will be on a given flight and will not allow agents to close out a flight until all wheelchairs are accounted for and loaded onto the flight.
  • Last year, United became the first U.S. airline to add Braille to its aircraft interiors. The entire mainline fleet should feature Braille by the end of 2026.
  • A redesigned mobile app to better accommodate those with visual disabilities and to function more seamlessly with screen reading technology.
  • Inflight entertainment systems with built-in accessibility features such as text-to-speech controls, magnification, and many more.
  • A Business Resource Group for people of all abilities that advises the airline on how to best support customers and be an ally for those with disabilities.
Hot Tip:

Learn more about traveling with a disability in our complete guide!

Final Thoughts

United is making strides to make journeys more seamless for customers of all abilities, and the new functionality to let customers traveling with wheelchairs choose the flights that would best accommodate their device is a step in the right direction.

We hope that United — and all other airlines — continue to make improvements like these in the future to guarantee easier journeys for all travelers.

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About Nick Ellis

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to leverage the perks of each.

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