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Traveling on Eurostar with the Atto Mobility Scooter

חסר תרגום בשפה עברית. מוצגת שפה אנגלית
טרשת נפוצה

David Starkman

Recently (May 2019) my wife and I took our second overseas trip (Los Angeles to London) taking the Atto mobility scooter (www.movinglife.com) with us.

As on our previous trip in 2018 (Los Angeles > Toronto > London > Los Angeles), we had special "check at gate" tags put on the scooter at check-in, and had to answer some questions about the scooter (weight, battery type, etc.). Then my wife was able to ride the scooter to the gate. At that point we had to fold it up for special check-in. It gets special handling, like wheelchairs and baby strollers. Upon arrival at our destination they bring the scooter back to the gate, and this makes the long distances at the airport easier traveling for my wife. Thanks to the Atto's fold-up design it's easy to get a normal cab, and put it in the trunk and still have room for our bags. We travel with just two carry-on bags and two personal items for the two of us.

Although Atto says the scooter can be put into the overhead bins (in two parts) our experience so far has been that we've had to check in the scooter.

Flights are just too crowded for them to allow us to take up two complete overhead bins for this, and we have not had the luck of free space in the cabin closet.

However, my main reason for writing is to share our experience with the Atto taking the Eurostar (the Channel Tunnel train) from London to Brussels and back.

Before booking tickets online I read the Eurostar information about taking mobility scooters on the train. According to the space allowance for the scooter the Atto is just slightly longer than the space indicated. However, I figured that if worse came to worse we could fold it up.

Why leave the scooter open at all, when it folds up so easily?

It turns out that when you book your ticket, and indicate that you have a wheelchair (below and to the right of where you fill in "To" and "From", "Station", "departure dates", etc. there is a small line to the right that just says "wheelchair"). Clicking on "wheelchair" brings you to a different menu for putting in your departure and return dates, and this is where you indicate there is one adult and one companion (unless there are more traveling). The adult with the wheelchair (or in this case the scooter) and the companion get special rates. For example, when I picked some dates in July 2019, from London to Paris, and back to London, the total rate for two people was £296 ($384) for the Standard (cheapest) tickets.  (I chose Paris for the example, as it may be more popular than Brussels from London).

However, by choosing the wheelchair option the rate drops to £29 ($38) per person each way, for a round trip total of £116 ($152).

This is less than half of the full rate for the cheapest tickets! Also, instead of Standard tickets these are either Standard Premier or Business Premier tickets, which are First Class, and include a light meal!  If you have more than two people traveling the others would pay the full adult or child rates as far as I know. Only one "companion" gets the discount.

One caveat is that, in theory the person in the wheelchair or mobility scooter will travel sitting in the wheelchair or scooter for the entire journey (about 2 to 2.5 hours). I was prepared to do that, as my wife has back pain problems. I just hoped that there might be a free seat that I could move to once we departed the station.

So here is my report on what actually happened taking the Atto mobility scooter on the Eurostar.

The staff at the Eurostar stations were extremely helpful with "Special Assistance". There is a different line (queue) for check-in, and by booking the wheelchair option there was staff help, and a ramp, available at our train coach for driving the scooter right onto the train.

Only some of the train coaches are equipped with the wheelchair spaces, so when you book your tickets you'll be assigned one of these, with the companion seat next to it.

In spite of the scooter size limitations, which are mentioned on the Eurostar web site that indicate that the Atto is about 1.5" (38mm) too long, I found that there was easily room for the Atto scooter on two different coach configurations. See the photos which show how the Atto fits into these spaces.

The wheelchair space.

Also, while theoretically the user has to sit in the wheelchair or scooter for the entire journey, the Eurostar staff told me that this rarely happens, as they know it is more comfortable to move to a proper seat, so there is usually a nearby seat that is left empty. This was the case for both of our journeys. So I can't promise you 100% about this, but this is what the staff told me.

The bottom line:

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels with your Atto scooter is easier and more comfortable than flying, and that the wheelchair option makes you and your companion eligible for bargain rates!   I hope this will be of interest and help to other Atto users.   Happy traveling                -David Starkman,    Culver City, California

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