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Look, No Hands … Wheelchairs Sport New Design
By DeAllous Smith

“Honey, they’re strapping a suitcase to the back of that wheelchair,” said Betty Gadsden while standing with her husband in the Airport Atrium. “Wow! Now that’s something you don’t see every day.”

The Gadsden family was one of several witnessing a recent news conference hosted by aviation and airline officials to introduce wheelchairs retrofitted with rear luggage carriers. The new devices make it easier for physically challenged people to transport their carry-on luggage without placing it on their laps.

A total of 135 wheelchairs will feature the rear luggage carriers. “We’ve essentially eliminated a major hassle factor for our customers,” said Doug Strachan, Hartsfield-Jackson creative innovations manager. “It was a privilege to work on this project, given the value we expect it to add for our customers. The devices can support up to 50 pounds, exceeding the weight of typical carry-on luggage.”

The decision to install rear luggage carriers was an easy option for Hartsfield-Jackson, which is already in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In order to bring the vision to life, the Airport partnered with Invacare Corp., Aviation Mobility, PrimeFlight Aviation Services, DAL Global Services and AirTran Airways.

“We are continually exploring new and creative ways to make the passenger experience more enjoyable. It took nearly a year to complete the entire process from concept to design and installation,” added Strachan.

The Gadsden family joined others in applause as the event concluded and a representative from Aviation Mobility demonstrated the wheelchairs’ operation. Upon leaving the news conference, the Gadsden matriarch remarked, “This event definitely brought a smile to my face.”

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