Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stop Over

It's been a few days of figuring out, of planning, of phone calling, of double checking. What I mean to say, I guess, is that it's been a few days of being disabled and living in a world where accessibility of space and in attitude is neither promised or guaranteed. It's all the result of a mistake.

We were asked to do a presentation in a small city in the United States. We checked and found that Air Canada, the only airline we fly, had a non-stop there. When we booked the tickets though, we found that Air Canada flies there on their summer schedule not their fall and winter one. We have to a stop over in an airport that we consider, from our experience, not wheelchair friendly. We also have to transfer to an airline that has caused us problems in the past, the plane is fine, the attitude isn't.

So now we are faced with travelling to speak at an event that we would have turned down if we knew about summer and winter schedules of the only airline left that we trust.

More than that, we've moved. Our old solutions for getting to the airport are no longer options and we have to develop new ways to get ourselves back and forth, from here to there and back. Our initial ideas simply didn't work when we sat to figure and others were way to expensive.

For two or three hours over two or three days. Calls were made. Flights were booked. Seats were chosen. Transit was planned. Then began the double checking. Rooms, accessible. Timing for transit set. Calls to ensure accessibility and understanding about the wheelchair. Painstaking work. Tiring work.

Travelling with a disability means planning and troubleshooting and having emergency strategies tucked in your pocket. Travelling with a disability means being ready, willing and able to deal with gate attendants or flight crew who don't think you should be there at all.

Travelling while being disabled and fat - well that means dealing with sitting at a gate with everyone hoping that they are seated no where near you. Sunscreen protects from cancer, self esteem protects from corrosive attitudes, they both sometimes need to be slathered on thickly.

So, it's done.

So, we are trusting our planning.

While both being quietly terrified of what happens next.


clairesmum said...

Nobody enjoys air travel these days - except those who are always able to fly first class. (the 1%)
Like much of daily life, for anyone who is visibly disabled air travel is worse by a couple of orders of magnitude....
I wish there was a way to ensure that some of the kindness you give out to the world could be returned to you on your travels.

Shannon said...

Good luck with your trip. I haven't had too many problems on the airlines but the bathrooms in even the accessible hotel rooms - never sure what I'm going to get. The only time I booked one with a roll in shower, I could not use it - the water controls were not reachable once you sat on the bench in the shower. Were they thinking everyone who's disabled travels with help? Or maybe just not thinking.

Adelaide Dupont said...

Shannon: grrr. Roll-in-showers and inaccessible controls. The hotel rooms - they could have a Control Day where everyone is welcome to use the stalls and bathrooms and you collect lots of data. "Just not thinking".

Claire's Mum: true about first class travel and enjoying it. The multipliers! Like 10x or 1000x or 10000x. [thinking in metric here].

Kindness and giving - it has a way of coming back. If not to Dave and Joe...

Dave and Joe: it's been good to read about your new strategies.

wheeliecrone said...

My chosen method of air-travel? I take the train.

No kidding.

Australian trains are less inaccessible than airplanes. And I can stay in my wheelchair, so I'm comfortable. And the toilet facilities are waaay more accessible on trains than on airplanes.

Yes, it takes more time, but I'm retired. I have time.

jp said...

I'm average in just about every way, and flying is a grit-my-teeth experience. My 6'5" husband who has metal inside his body (surgery) that sets off alarms refuses to fly. Not because of inconvenience, physical discomfort, etc. but because the airline people just pissed him off one too many times. So anyway, with your fanclub, of which I'm a member, I bet you could post your itinerary and have people at every stop ready to run interference as needed. Kind of like court-watching - just knowing they are being monitored makes people way more polite.