I broke my ankle about a week before I was due to go on holiday. Whilst I don’t begin to compare my personal injury with the disabilities that some of my clients have, it was eye opening to see how disabled people are treated when they fly.
It was quickly clear to me that there was no way I could walk the distances at the airport or even just stand in the queue to go through security. I went online to see what help there was for me and how much it would cost. Under European legislation, your airline is responsible for providing assistance when you are on board the aircraft and the airport will help you while you are at the airport. And, importantly, they have to provide this for free.
I contacted my airline and advised them that I needed assistance 3 days before I flew. When I arrived at the airport I was dropped at a “Special Assistance” telephone booth where a man with a wheelchair soon appeared. The service I received was exceptional. There was a “Special Assistance” check in desk, security and an area for us to wait for our flight. Whilst waiting a “hostess” asked me whether she could get anything from the shops for me!
I was given a buzzer and an hour before my flight I was taken in a buggy to the gate and taken to the front of the queue – despite not having speedy boarding. Once on board I was checked on by the flight attendant and generally felt well looked after. When I arrived in France the service was just as good. The whole process meant that I could fly without walking. I was told that if I had family travelling with me, they would have been able to accompany me the whole time.
Given that at this time of year I am arranging flights and holidays for my disabled clients, I was thrilled that the service was so polished and easy to use. Since then I have made sure that my clients are aware of this free service to ensure that their travelling experience is as easy as possible.