[nfbwatlk] wheelchairs at Seatac and a cane incident

Mary ellen gabias at telus.net
Sun Dec 14 05:44:43 UTC 2014

A few weeks ago I traveled through Seatac on my way to Dallas. I was met by
Rita from Russia and a wheelchair.  Rita was quite sharp.  She looked at me,
her wheelchair, and my carry-on bag and said "We'll use this wheelchair for
the luggage."  Off we went on a frustrating hour-and-a-half quest to rebook
me because my inbound plane landed fifteen minutes after my out-bound plane
left.  On the Seattle to Dallas portion of the trip I had a cane incident.
The flight crew insisted on putting my cane in the closet.  Because this
second plane was late, too, I decided to deal with the incident later.  The
flight crew gave me their first names and a written description of the
incident as they perceived it.  I looked up the correct regulation, which
they incorrectly said had changed, and filed a report with the airline.  The
man who took my complaint assured me that an advisory would go out to all
crews so nothing similar happens again.  Unfortunately, he said they would
not provide me with a copy of the internal memo.  I'm left hoping my
complaint achieved something useful.  I'd call that an unsatisfactory
complaints process, since the information flowed one way, only from me to

I tell this dreary story because of the rest of the conversation I had with
the Alaska Air complaint handler.  He informed me that all meet and assist
requests are answered by a person with a wheelchair.  Apparently anyone on
the staff of the company handling meet and assist requests is assigned a
wheelchair which they must keep with them at all times.  The Alaska Air guy
says he's seen those folks pushing their wheelchairs into restaurants when
they take their lunch breaks.  So I guess anybody traveling on Alaska
Airlines who goes through Seatac, (which is almost everybody traveling on
Alaska Air, I think), is likely to have a wheelchair discussion.  I avoid
meet and assist requests when I can for that very reason.  I couldn't avoid
Rita from Russia and her chair this time because alternate arrangements
needed to be made for me and several other passengers.  In the
hour-and-a-half I spent with Rita, we had a fascinating conversation about
languages (she spoke at least four) and immigration, since we both had the
experience of being an immigrant, though hers was quite traumatic.)

It may be that the NFBW will need to do some education about cane
regulations.  I hope mine is the only incident and that they will inform
their flight crews that I had stowed my cane properly and that blind
passengers should be left in peace!  

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Debby
Phillips via nfbwatlk
Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2014 6:46 PM
To: Don Mitchell; semisweetdebby at gmail.com; nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org;
mario.eiland at hotmail.com; portillo.jim at gmail.com; k7uij at panix.com
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] drive in custodialism - The Nature of Independence

It's interesting, because I hate it when people honk.  I'd rather have the
human interaction.  If somebody honks, I have no idea why they're honking.
So, it's interesting what people prefer.  
If somebody says: "It's clear to go after I do" then I know exactly what
they're saying.  For me, if they honk, they could be saying, It's okay to
go.  It also could be two cars almost hitting each other and honking at each
other or one honking at the other; or you know, the honk when somebody's
saying hi to the other.  So I guess to each our own when it comes to what we
prefer helpwise.  (Smile).  And yes, when somebody comes with a wheelchair
at the airport, that ticks me off, too.  But a little bit in the defense of
the people coming to assist, sometimes they don't know who they're
assisting.  They just get a radio call for meet and assist.  So it could be
anybody from my mother-in-law, who needs a wheelchair to me.  So in lots of
cases they just bring the wheelchair.  It makes me angry when they try to
force me into it, but just because they have one with them is not 
really an issue.    Peace,    Debby

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