A Lesson for Traveling

When I read the brief article below, memories flooded back to a trip to Aruba on a major airline.

My companion and I had learned from previous trips:
1. Handicapped Room Requests were just that – requests and the hotel is not responsible for providing accessible room to guests
who have special needs.
2. If you fall in Aruba (ahem) and suffer soft-tissue damage, you can call the airline to attain handicapped transportation services known as: Wheelchair Attendant to wheel you to your Gate for each arrival/departure.
3. If your travel agent (or person acquiring airline tickets) omits your need for wheelchair, you can ask your airline hostess for one to be made
available upon your arrival.
4. If your airline hostess fails to ask ahead on your behalf and the wheelchair attendant is not at the end of the gate ramp, do NOT exit the plane.

I repeat, do NOT exit the plane.

Why?

Because once you step off the airplane, you are no longer a customer, a frequent flier, a passenger – you are invisible to the staff.

How do I know this?

Because the exact scenario happened to me on a second trip to Aruba on a popular airline carrier.

The travel agent’s request for airline terminal handicapped assistance failed to show up on the tickets/boarding passes. We asked the hostess to please have one ready upon landing in Aruba Airport.
She said she would call it in ahead.
We believed her.
After landing in Aruba, no wheelchair or attendant waited for us at the end of the ramp.
My companion and I waited and repeatedly asked for a wheelchair.
Not one hostess acknowledged our plea.
My travel buddy stepped off the plane in search of help.
I stepped off the plane and continued to ask for a wheelchair.
Three professional airline hostesses stood straight ahead like muted mannequins with red, white and blue polyester scarves.

Ignored me – plain and simple.

Over twenty minutes passed without one sound, one utterance, one shred of humanity, compassion and may I add ‘professionalism.’

My buddy descended the ramp with a wheelchair, prepared to push me through the airport.

We managed balancing and hauling the luggage until we passed through Customs, hailed the hotel shuttle.

Although the flight attendant appeared to have never called in the request for a wheelchair upon landing in Aruba,

I did call the airline.

The customer service representative offered me a voucher for my next flight with their company.

I refused.

After an hour and a half, the representative grasped the depth of my complaint.

Tip 4: If you are treated poorly, complain in writing and through customer services.

Tip 5: Do not expect a response or follow-up.

Call and write the transportation company anyway. The more disgruntled the disabled and their companions are ‘on-record’ may mean positive, progressive change.

Change helps us live our life to the best of our possibilities.

http://www.turnto23.com/news/us-world/disabled-army-veteran-kick-off-florida-flight-because-of-service-dog-050814

Perspective from New Zealand

Short and sassy article from Kiwi author is right up this Blog’s alley.

New Zealander, Linda Kimpton wrote an article:Being disabled isn’t a disaster
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/do-new-zealanders-accept-difference/9997038/Being-disabled-isn-t-a-disaster

She shines a light on the human body’s fragility being a source of changing perspectives and improving authentic inclusion.

Her insight comes from a parental lens.
As a mother of a disabled child, she states;
People don’t seem to realise that they or their loved ones are only ever an accident or a twist of fate away from joining the “disabled community.”

The mere act of aging shifts people from the artificial category of “abled” to “disabled”.

I think if people could get past this binary thinking, and recognise that disability is a rather natural, if not inevitable, part of the human condition, then we’d be a step closer to the disabled being treated with dignity and respect.

Binary thinking indeed!

I am moved by her candor.

Linda Kimpton serves on the Board of Education and adds;
Being on a school’s board of trustees has shown me many ways in which a school that adapts to accommodate the disabled, ends up enriching the school experience of the other students.

She introduces simple and effective alternatives toward both short and long-term attitudes, short and long-mindsets and short and long-opportunities for improving lives for the disabled and those who love them or care for them.

‘When New Zealand society advances to the point where we recognise disability as just part of the spectrum of humanity, and that there is nothing perverse or backwards in finding the beauty, talents and joy in the lives of the disabled, then we will all be better off for it.’

“Being disabled isn’t a disaster”- so true.

Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, oil spills, wars, animal welfare abuses, these are disasters.

The need for a change toward disability – a shift from dualistic thinking adds positive potential for All.

That’s how we like to roll here at Living Life to the Best of Your Possibility-

Thanks, Linda Kimpton for widening our lens down to New Zealand!