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Disability Arts Online

Tokyo first class / 25 August 2014

You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but times change and flying gets more stressful as the world grows steadily more bizarre. Checking in with my wheelchair became a strange Groundhog-type scenario. Three times at different points I was required to give the same information about my chair, far more detailed info than in previous years, and even then I was stopped before actually boarding, and required to give wheelchair details that had somehow been missed.

Checking in I was given a 'better' seat, but special assistance then appeared to forget about me in the designated waiting area. Consequently I was the last passenger to board; usually wheelborne people get loaded-up first. I was getting seriously anxious. The flight was being delayed.

The better seat had an airbag in the seat-belt which would consequently not fit around me plus my support cushions. I was quite stressed by then. Mike, the inboard manager, took an instant decision to move me to first class. I travelled in my own little cubicle.

I take warm clothes and a hot water bottle when I fly, usually I'm freezing. On this plane I was comfortably warm - good preparation for Tokyo where the forecast was for thirty degrees of warmth the morning I arrived.
Cabin crew are always very helpful, but first class crew really do go the extra mile. Mike came and apologised for the seating 'malfunction' and assured me that no-one had taken the real thickness of my cushions into account, it was certainly not because I was too large. Sitting very comfortably in first class with real, edible food, I didn't really think the apology was necessary.

We are two hundred and eighty odd souls on board,
just living our lives in the sky for twelve hours.
Not thinking about disappearing or being
blown apart we are taking a northerly route
to Japan. I'm warm and comfortable and I
have slept. I have an aisle-seatbed with view, I've
eaten barbecued tiger prawns and blueberry
hotcakes. I have reason to ponder privilege.
And more reasons to think about equality.