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.


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.


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