We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging for some random thougths on the sad state of airline travel.
In the past several months I have been on many long flights with various mobility limitations. I have flown needing to use my cane, in a wheelcahir, on crutches (having to depend on airport wheelchairs), and recently relatively unimpaired but needing to still keep my foot up as much as possible and wear my compression stockings. The combined set of experiences has left me with a newfound appreciation for those with disabilities attempting to get though our present day airports.
Several years ago, I underwent a long distance move after breaking my foot. At that time, I had to go on about 4 long flights on crutches, using airport wheelchairs. The experience was so easy in retrospect, although at the time I hated the loss of independence. Still the airport workers met you at the curb with the wheelchair, put you through special lines to check in, guided you through security where they passed the metal wand over you and scanned your stuff- all handled efficiently by the airport personal who took you from the curb to your gate. It took like 10 minutes.
Now, in the post 9/11 airport craziness forget about it. They still claim to provide the same service, but they don’t. I have been left in the middle of terminals in a wheelchair, alone with them claiming that someone would come and get me to take me to the next terminal. (Thankfully- fellow passengers had sympathy for me and helped to get me to my flight or I shudder to think of what might have happened in the midst of the Atlanta airport). Then upon arrival I was deposited at the baggage claim, alone and told to get my bags- Umh, hello- how was I supposed to do that? Again, fellow passengers intervened. Thank goodness for the kindness of people because the airlines have lost it. After that flight I swore I wouldn’t get on a plane, no matter what the reason, until I could be responsible for myself again.
So, fast forward 4 months and here I sit on my 4th flight in 2 weeks, and more or less I have kept my promise. I am responsible for myself. The only really hard part was the one long security line but still….. Heaven forbid you have to do anything a little different when going through security. I have complied with taking my shoes off, accepting the new airplane rediculousness that requires you to buy water either within the terminal or on the plane because they will only give about 4 oz of water in steerage and you can’t bring your own. All of that stinks but OK. My new beef is with security. I wear one compression stocking. So, I have a stocking on one leg and not the other- no it isn’t a fashion statement, it is the most comfortable way for me to get around. Well every security person seems fascinated by this oddity and begins a series of 20 questions for which they seem unwilling to accept anything short of the most detailed answer even though my stockings are sheer and my scar, which I have to show them, is visible through these stockings. Plus they are so tight, you couldn’t hide anything in them anyway. No, not good enough. I have had to go through secondary screening because of this oddity three times now. When I was traveling in the lovely orthopedic boot. I had to go through secondary screening while they swiped every inch of my boot with their bomb detecting cloths. It leaves me questioning what they do to the people with artificial limbs. Do they make you take it off and wait on the chair while they scan your limb? It is as though you sacrifice your civil liberties when you board an airplane anymore. And I haven’t even gotten to the issue of your stuff, which you must subject to be searched and just hope that those security people won’t break or steal it.
I applaud those people who were stranded on that horrible flight that sat on the tarmac for something like 9 hours last year in their attempts to get a passenger bill of rights. I wish them luck.
Whew thanks for letting me get that off my chest.