[nfbwatlk] wheelchairs at Seatac and a cane incident

Arielle Silverman arielle71 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 14 06:07:54 UTC 2014

Ugh, Alaska Air. They're the only airline whose staff made me stow my
cane in a closet too, when I was 14. I was young and didn't know
better, so I let them, but I never will now. On a more recent flight
to SEATAC, the flight attendan made me promise that in the event of an
evacuation I would wait for them to assist me after all the other
passengers were evacuated, which they claimed was regulations. No way
I'm doing that. They also asked my sighted husband if he would take
responsibility for helping me in the event of an evacuation; I said we
would look out for each other. I did have one uneventful flight on
Alaska, but I suspect that some of their staff trainings are teaching
inaccurate and overly rigid rules about how to handle disabled
passengers. Generally when I fly I try to be as inconspicuous as I
possibly can and keep my name out of their system so I can avoid the
airline harassment etc. Unfortunately that doesn't always work,
especially when alternative flight booking is involved.

On 12/13/14, Mary ellen via nfbwatlk <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 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
> them.
> 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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