We arrived at Heathrow after a relatively comfortable flight, I even slept a little. We usually have trouble at airports as I use my own chair and the 'assistants' who show up to give me a push to the baggage area always bring their own chair - assuming that most disabled passengers are 'distance disabled' and are ambulatory in the rest of their lives. I've encountered actual hostility at the fact that I am in my own chair and the 'assistant' doesn't want to leave their chair behind to get me to where I want to go.
The woman who was there to assist was not hostile about my chair but she was damned and determined not to leave her chair behind and it was a comic dance trying to figure out how to get both chairs to our destination. Though I don't think she meant it, I ended up feeling like a total inconvenience to her. Not a nice way to begin our UK trip.
As we entered the baggage hall, I asked to be left by the exit as Joe and the 'pusher' got the luggage from a carousel further along. It didn't make sense to be pushed there and then pushed back. I sat and watched as other passengers got luggage and rushed out. One woman, dressed in a business suit approached me, holding out her passport. It took me a second to realize that where I was sitting had me looking like I was in a position of authority.
"No, no," I said, "I'm just waiting here for my friends."
"Oh, sorry," she said, "you just looked very official."
She left a real smile on my face. The presumption of competence! How nice. When I live in a world where most see my chair and assume that I am a 'begger boy, begger boy' to have someone approach me without prejudice was like a drink of water.
So there it is ... the world may be full of those with prejudices and preconceptions, but there are also people who have transcended stereotype and are willing to see people with disabilities as having power and authority.