Unlucky number 17

Hello everyone! Greetings from Italy!

This weekend I flew (and waited for flights) for almost 18 hours to get to Italy. I was really surprised how smoothly everything went considering the sequester and how it’s affecting air traffic.  By some miracle, we made all our connections and even our luggage arrived!

We were very lucky that, for the international leg: we somehow got upgraded to Economy Plus AND to the front row!! So much leg room!! The flight was still long, but it helped. Our super friendly flight attendant—lets call him Michael (not his real name)—was nice enough to spend a few minutes answering a few questions about flying with disabilities.

When calling airlines with questions about traveling with different disabilities, it’s been my experience that they know less than nothing. They read from a script. So I wanted to take this opportunity so ask a person who actually works inside the plane to hear his thoughts.

From talking to airlines, I was very confused about how wheelchair users get into the aisle chair (a tiny chair that can bring you down the aisle of the plane for you to transfer into your seat). Several airlines made a big fuss that they were not allowed to help passengers into the chair. But the chair has no arm rests and the seat itself is rather small, so I don’t understand how a person could transfer! So I went to the source. Michael said—yes, it’s true they cannot help you into the chair BUT they outsource that help. (This was a United Airlines/Star Alliance flight). They have a group, Michael referred to them simply as The Muscle, that they bring in to help the passenger transfer.

On the final leg of our trip, we boarded a itty bitty aircraft. Standard sized carry-ons couldn’t even fit in the overhead compartments. They had rows 1, 2, 3….11, 12, 14… Italy is the land of the supersticous, but I’d never realized they take out row 13 on aircraft before! The rows go on: 15, 16, 18… What?? What did row 17 ever do?

Apparently they didn’t take out enough row numbers because it was the most difficult landing of them all. I read this article about a week ago about how if the plane is going down, the air crew won’t say so. Their exact words were: “If we’re not going to make it, we’re definitely not going to tell you. The last thing we need before we die is a riot” I literally thought to myself at one point, I wonder if this is what it feels like before a crash landing. Meanwhile the crazy lady sitting in front of me was happily snapping pictures and asked me to take a few (yes, I was traveling with her. Yes, I still thinks she’s crazy) and the lady sitting behind me was breathing like she was having a baby. The rest of the plane was eerily quiet.

I don’t know what row they are going to re-number to prevent that from happening again.


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