Empathy, Awareness, and Access are Needed Today and More Than Ever Before.
Passengers with disabilities represent one of the fastest-growing traveler segments, and we need airlines to be committed to removing barriers to safe, accessible air travel*. As a deaf woman, I have had my fair share.
The following is a true story:
I’m on my way home to say the final goodbyes to my grandmother who was dying.
My flight was delayed, which meant I was stuck wandering around the airport and constantly checking the clock at the restaurant I was waiting at.
I returned to my gate early only to find that no one was there, and the stewardess was in process of closing the door.
When I asked her what was going on and gave her my name, she instantly recognized it.
They had been paging me for the last half hour…I had missed my flight and was told I had to look at going on a later flight.
Thinking I was stuck in the airport and not headed to my family, I started crying and explaining how I’m hard of hearing and couldn’t hear any announcements. I expressed the urgency that I had to get on the plane before they departed.
The stewardess was firm that I couldn’t get on, I asked her if she had a grandma, and saw her taking compassion on me, started talking rapidly into her walkie – I was able to lipread everything she was saying.
She explained to the flight crew that I was a deaf passenger, absolutely had to get home, and needed to be on board.
Next thing I know, the door is opening, and I’m being assisted on board and on my way home.
Had it not been for the compassionate stewardess, I would have missed saying goodbye.
Incidents like this happen every single day.
Empathy, Awareness, and Access are needed today, now more than ever.
I was lucky that I came across an empathetic crew member, but that’s not the case for everyone.
It’s time for more travel companies to get on board with awareness and access for their travelers.
I’m ready to travel the world without accessibility issues.