Saturday, March 28, 2009

What's Next ... Airport Wise


Yesterday I was giving a lecture here in Toronto, I got home and promptly fell asleep on the couch. I glanced at my blog and saw a lot of comments on the entry I wrote about the airport. I read a few and realized that somehow my little blog got plastered all over the web. Very cool, I suppose. Except I got more visitors in two days that I have in years. How I'll ever beat that I don't know.

After having written the blog, before anyone much had read what I'd written, I did some research and sent off an email about my experience to my airline, and the airport authority describing my experience and my upset. I left a phone number and over the lunch break ended up having a very good and, I believe, productive talk with someone who took my concerns very seriously.

There are questions about advocacy, do I go public and have them inundated with emails and complaints - from people who did not experience the problem - or do I continue the dialogue without the 'white noise' of public protest. I wrote my blog for my blog, that it went international is ok with me but wasn't my choice. The resulting debate between 'this is all bullshit and wouldn't happen' and 'this kind of thing has happened to me' is just fine for my comment column.

Me, I'm going to advocate for change in a way that makes sense to me. I will speak for myself, with my own voice and my own passion. Failing this... full disclosure from date and time to flight number. Right now I think hundreds of complaining voices is premature to the process. I believe in change and I believe there is a place for public protest. But one step at a time, let them deal with me ... and failing me ... you.

I promise to keep you all updated.


wlturland said...

Good for you. Keep us up to date and, if you need us, we'll all be here to drown the appropriate ears in outrage.

yanub said...

Yay! I'm glad your complaint is being taken seriously by the proper authorities.

And good on you, not letting the nameless meanies get to you. I think the majority of the new people get that what happened isn't just a customer-service problem, but an extreme example of the sort of de-humanization people with disabilities face all the time. The only thing unusual about the incident was how blatant it was. I bet most of the new people will put your experience to play in bettering their own interactions with others regardless of disability.

FridaWrites said...

It hasn't ceased to amaze me yet the way that people mistreat us and then the way people mistreat us because of that. Most people who have traveled much with a wheelchair have quite the stories to tell.

And I guess some of the commenters think you've just hijacked a power wheelchair (minimum $10,000) out of insurance after experiencing a catastrophic situation. And travel all over the world as a long-term disability rights activist and writer in this wheelchair pretending to have a disability. Uh huh. Or maybe, gasp, you're an imposter for the real Dave Hingsburger, who's never googled himself and found out he has a secret double.

I find the screaming questions at you offputting. All of us experience and write about this kind of thing all the time. I guess people don't realize that neither the discrimination nor the interrogation are uncommon.

Don't let them get you down.

When I come to a blog as a new reader, I look for the context by looking at other posts if I need to. People could quickly find out more and it's lazy for people to demand a full bio in every blog.

The ADA is toothless in the courts and the Restoration Act isn't likely to be much better; the Canadian Act is I'm sure similar.

FridaWrites said...

I would have also concluded that the guy was likely off duty and stealing my stuff.

anonymous said...

I'm one of those people who just started reading. I encountered your airport post on digg (or reddit, can't remember which) and, though it shouldn't have been a surprise, it was. A surprise to see that someone can behave that way.

Brent Rasmussen said...

I think you have made a wise and reasoned decision Dave. Best of luck to you in your discussions with the airport and the airline.

But if you do need us, remember the old phrase from the play Julius Ceasar:

"...cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war!"

It's very appropriate in this situation, don't you think?

Hang in there man!

Molly said...

Good, I'm still apalled over that whole thing

Dave, I really hope I get to meet you some day! Any plans to be in nyc anytme soon?

Tamara said...

I think I missed reading that day - which is unusual for me. And then when I saw 87 comments the next morning, I was amazed.

I hope the whole experience results in many new readers - as well as an appropriate action by the airline/airport.

Since I don't have any "traveling in a wheelchair" experience, I wouldn't have known these types of situations occur. But, I know that if I ever see someone in a wheelchair and a security guard in an airport having a discussion, I will be more inclined to eavesdrop and see what's up ... :-)

Amy said...

As a daily reader, I was shocked (and somewhat appalled) by all those comments on your original post. How exceedingly rude for all those people to come out of nowhere and start making assumptions and demanding information!

Those of us who "know" you expect that you would deal with this situation appropriately, rather than calling out the hordes. We're here if you need us, but I expect you'll make quite the impression without us.

Noddy said...

Go you! I'm glad your complaint is getting the attention it deserves from the proper sources.

I am accompanied by a signal dog of an unusual breed. Most of the time, people see his photo ID tag and patches and that's the end of it. Only once did I feel I needed to register a formal complaint. Like you, I vented about the incident on my blog, with minimal details.

I got a few people who wanted details so they could bombard the company with hate mail on my behalf - as if I were helpless instead of HOH. That method doesn't work. Like you, I notified the appropriate parties and took care of things.

I think low-profile is effective. Only if no acceptable solution is achieved should a loud outcry be made.

And you do not owe those trolls in your comments any details. If they truly cared about what happened next, they would have found this follow-up post just as I did.

Anonymous said...

So this happened at SFO.
The people who manage Security / skycaps / baggage handlers is G2 Secure Staff.
Just want to be sure that is correct since Tons of people are blaming TSA and the US Government Employees in these blogs that have been fired up.
Good Luck to you on your quest to be treated with the respect that you deserve. I hope the best for you!

One Sick Mother said...

So the 'elephant disappears' post went viral... Wow!

What a way to make an 'elephant' reappear! And with so many elephant buddies, some of whom appear to be stampeding already.

You are quite right to handle the matter yourself and therefore to retain dignity and control. It is your fight, and you are absolutely capable of fighting it yourself. I do look forward to reading the outcome.

and I hope you have not been too offended by some of the more outlandish comments on the original post. What a palaver!

Kate said...

Good for you, Dave, and the way you handled it. Wonder if any of those readers from the other day will be back to see this.

Kate said...

Good for you, Dave, and the way you handled it. Wonder if any of those readers from the other day will be back to see this.

Beth said...

Hello, I'm a newcomer who came over to read about your airport security experience. I heartily endorse (for what that's worth) your decision to deal with the issue in person and individually for now.

But believe that if this doesn't get you some kind of satisfaction, there are many thousands of people like me happy to get your back. I've traveled able and disabled, and there is an enormous difference in how I am treated.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the security agency at the Toronto airport could hire you to lecture/educate their security guards in the field of disability as related to travel. Also provide you with a nice retainer fee in between lectures. ;-)

You obviously have excellent judgment and good common sense, which seems to be lacking with most of the airport security that I have encountered. ( I am a 6ft. tall woman, which evidently falls into the category of “possible terrorist suspect.” ) I am constantly frisked by airport security. I was also told early on that I can “request” that a woman do the frisking if I wished. The rub lies here...occasionally, a woman is available to do the frisking, however, most of the time I would have to wait for one to come from somewhere and the probability of making my flight would be in jeopardy.

It certainly is rather ironic that the security guard decided to pick on someone that is a professional in the industry. Perhaps something good can come from all of this.

Best of luck to you!!!


I was lucky enough to be at your Toronto session and I just love you

I want to share my blog and my guys blog with you
John recently is in the finals in the Idealway art contest and out of 500 entries he is in the final 50 and is having a show in Toronto
Great man..

wendy said...

I'm so glad to hear that your complaint is being taken seriously. I'd say that that security guard certainly picked the wrong (or maybe the right!) person to try to make disappear!

Anonymous said...

Dave, here's a prediction as to the airline/airport's response, which I would love to be wrong about. You will either receive no reply at all, or something very similar to this:

"In response to your communication, we have reviewed your account of the incident and taken appropriate action. Thank you for writing."

I.e., the classic way of shutting up a complainer. I just wonder whether you would consider that a satisfactory response?

Anonymous said...

Still no response from the airport, eh? I guess they don't feel any need to reply to just one guy. So how about publishing the details?

Meela said...

This whole thing torks me off. I don't doubt you Dave, and I know why you're not listing everything, it's to try to find a solution on your own without the 'moral outrage brigade' storming in. I can respect that. I also understand a bit about liable laws so....

Good luck and I'm glad to have found your blog, though I wish the circumstances had been different. I hope the airport/airline do the right thing in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Apparently the airport did not take him seriously.

Anonymous said...

Dave, you know as well as the rest of the disabled community that you can't let this go. It is each sige event and each single fight that will change attitudes towards disabled people and in particular wheelchair users. One voice does count and you obviously know that.

I just want to thank you for not letting this go. Also for bringing it out in a public way like this. Too many people don't know what the disabled community have to endure and it is cases like this, and they are not uncommon, that show the world the suffering we go through at the mercy of 'so called able bodied people' on a daily basis can make life extremely hard for us.

keep up the fight and dont settle for anything less than a full apology and compensation for your experience.

One fight at a time, we can beat this.

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read that post. Thank you for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

Kate Hakkinen