As it turns out… the friendly skies are, in fact, friendly.
This past weekend I was in Cincinnati for a Cystic Fibrosis Education Day, and since I didn’t feel like walking there from New York, I flew.
If you follow my blog, you know that flying with cystic fibrosis isn’t the most fun thing in the world, especially when I’m traveling alone since I have to pack so much stuff.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and my letter of medical necessity dictate that I can “carry on” several bags when I fly.
It’s a good and bad thing, I think. It’s good in the sense that I don’t have to deal with checking a bag, but it’s a pain in the ass to be carrying a million bags through the airport like I’m someone hiking up Mount Everest. Then, once I get to the airplane I find myself throwing elbows just to secure a place to put all my bags in the overhead.
Civilization reaches its breaking point when people are trying to stick their bags in the overhead compartment.
Between all that and wearing a 3M N95 surgical mask, which does a great job of protecting me, but restricts oxygen flow, I usually end up sweating and gasping for air by the time I get to the gate.
For reference, this is what it looks like… here I am on a different flight with my mask.
As it would turn out, the gate attendant noticed and offered that I take advantage of pre-boarding.
Even though I know that I am entitled to pre-boarding due to disability, I usually try to avoid it since I’m not in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller, but the attendant was pretty kind about it. I didn’t even need to show the note from my doctor; I guess she could just tell.
I was the first one onto the plane and about to begin my long walk back to 17B, when I was then greeted by a flight attendant who offered to carry my bags to the back of the plane.
I guess I must have looked sicker than I thought… and I’m actually feeling pretty good these days.
I declined because I thought it was ridiculous and I hoped the crew would be willing to help someone else, but the flight attendant basically snatched up my bag and began walking. I let it happen because, if anything, it would circumvent the inevitable fight I‘d have with other passengers over the overhead space. About halfway there the flight attendant even offered to wipe down my seat and tray table. A simple gesture, but the kindness I was witness to was unlike anything I had ever experienced on an airplane.
I again declined, this time saying I’d be happy to settle myself into my seat with my own wipes and hand sanitizer. She politely acknowledged my answer, helped me get my bags into the overhead, then offered her help for anything else that I may need…without ever once questioning whether or not I was truly disabled.
This experience was certainly a breath of fresh air after being questioned for my handicapped-parking placard just last week.
Extra points if you find the typo
To cap the flight off, just before our final descent into New York, the Delta flight crew made mention that we were flying on Veterans Day and went out of their way to thank any Veterans or active duty personnel on the airplane, then handed out a piece of candy to every passenger.
It was awesome to know there were so many veterans and active duty personnel on the plane.
Ultimately if this experience teaches me anything, it’s that people are willing to go above and beyond to help however they can.
Great job, Delta.