Wheels Walkie Talkie: I Can Travel Solo!
Strong-willed and confident with a fierce passion for travelling, our expert, Shama Noorani has never learnt to give up. Read on to know what she has to say about travelling solo in her new blog.
I have mostly travelled on my own, and am a frequent flyer with an International carrier, well recognised by the cabin crew…or so I thought…I am going to be sharing one such journey of mine to the U.K, which turned out to be quite nightmarish for me.
As a rule I always report 3 hours prior to the schedule departure, to ensure my check in etc. goes smoothly. This trip was no different, I was at the check in desk with lots of time to spare, looking forward to browsing the duty free.
But, the ground staff I approached to check me in had different plans! As always, the lady at the desk inquired if I was travelling alone and I answered in the affirmative, smiling happily. To my utter shock, she informed me that she could not check me in until the flight crew gave her the green signal for carrying a disabled passenger sans a travel companion. To add insult to injury she directed the airport loader to park me and my luggage to one side so that other passengers could be checked in. All this without a word of explanation to me!
I tried to reason with her, suggesting that she should check my travel footsteps with them over the years as I was a frequent flyer, but she would not budge. I was left with no recourse except to raise my voice, lose my cool and rave and rant about the apathy and insensitivity towards the specially-abled at Indian airports.
I refused to budge from her counter, tears now accompanied my words of affront and chagrin, and the busy check-in lounge was silent enough to hear a pin drop. After much ado, a senior manager came to my rescue; or the airlines, depending on how you choose to look at it. She was extremely empathic and apologetic about the shoddy handling of the situation by their ground staff. She made sure I was comfortable, then checked me in and upgraded me to first class!
Once bitten, twice shy. I now undertake what I call ‘Travel Busting’ before I fly anywhere!
1) I make sure that the airline concerned puts in a note with my booking, reiterating that I am capable of looking after myself on the flight.
2) As I have experienced how ignorant some travel agents/online travel portals can be about access, I do the needful of informing the airlines special assistance help desk myself.
3) I inform them of any assistance I require once I check-in, i.e. loader, transfer, aisle chair etc.
4) Although confirming ones seat prior to the journey is not required any more, I ring up the airline 48 hours prior to my journey, to remind them of my requirements, just to be on the safe side.
5) And lastly, I keep my loudest voice on hand if my sweet smile and soft voice doesn’t have the desired effect. Just in case I encounter another hurdle.