Had a bit of an ordeal getting home. My flight from Edinburgh was supposed to leave at 8:20 am local time. I got to the airport at 6am after very little sleep and waited a long time for assistance, and considered just heading up on my own, but I knew I wasn’t doing well, and standing in the lines would not have been possible, so I waited. When they did come I got through security and everything pretty fast. First time they actually gave me a pat down instead of walking through the metal detector thingy. I had some extra time so did some last minute gift buying, and headed to the plane.
When it was time to board, they called for anyone needing extra time to head in, so I started making my way to the plane (hearing some grumbles from other passengers, and comments about being “disabled”) and they then just made me stand there for ten minutes or so, with everyone else behind me waiting to board. But whatever, shit happens, right? I got to my seat, and ended up sitting next to a lovely older Scottish woman who was heading to Canada to meet friends and go on an RVing adventure to the east coast! She was nice and kept giving me little toffee candies. Score.
Unfortunately though, our plane didn’t take off. It started, then stopped. Then started again, then stopped. Then the pilot came on the speaker saying there was a maintenance issue and we had to head back to the gate to check it out. Not something you really want to hear about a plane you’re about to fly in for 7 hours! It ended up being a long three hour process, where we just sat on the plane waiting.. Creepy.
Eventually we took off and made it to Toronto (thankfully!), a few hours behind schedule, but we made it none the less. I then had some issues with the assistance at Pearson airport. I was actually really surprised at how they treated me. First, someone else took the wheelchair assistance that showed up for me, who didn’t ask for it ahead of time, so I waited about ten minutes or so for another to come. It was fine though, I figured if they took it they needed it and that’s fine with me. I also really needed it after the whole ten hours on the plane thing. The issues came when I got in the wheelchair. The first guy dropped me to wait for a golf cart type thing, that drove me just a few minutes to another spot where some Air Canada staff took over. A woman took me in another chair, through the security and to baggage claim. Now this is where things got really weird. At every other airport I’ve been to on this trip, they have helped me get my bag, and dropped me at my final destination in the airport, no questions asked, and have always been very kind about it. I was surprised at how efficient and helpful they were everywhere I went! I was just a bit shocked at how I was treated in my home country in comparison. The woman took me to the baggage belt, and told me that if I was “tired” I could go sit in the chairs near the belt and she would be on her way. Now as I mentioned, I had been sitting on a plane for the past 10+ hours, my legs felt sore and heavy as hell, but yet also like jelly. Real heavy jelly (that’s the best I can describe it!). I was shocked at the ignorance of this woman. She made it seem like I was just getting assistance because I was sleepy, and she was more then happy to leave me to it. I asked if I could just stay in the chair she had parked me in, and for her to clarify how far I would have to go from there to arrivals, and she assured me it was just around the corner, and then she left. I didn’t really know what to do at this point. I was a bit of a mess still from the flight and feeling pretty awful (note: heavy jelly), and was just kind of shocked that this woman, who works in a mobility assistance department, would be so cold. I really think it was because I am young, and not visibly disabled. But I also think that’s not an excuse, and that she should have known better.
When I got home, I decided to email Air Canada customer service about it. I just feel like if this happened to me, it could happen to again to someone else, and there needs to be something done so that it doesn’t. It’s hurtful, and embarrassing, and if another passenger didn’t help me to get my bag I might not have made it to where I had arranged to be picked up (which was a whole other ordeal, why do people push past someone who is obviously struggling?!).
I actually heard back from Air Canada today, which I didn’t expect, and they were very apologetic and agreed that it was not standard procedure and that it would be looked into. They also offered me a $100 credit to a future Air Canada flight. I wasn’t looking for that, but it was a nice gesture. I more so hope it helps to better the assistance offered for others travelling alone through Pearson airport.
Not a very pleasant experience, but I’m glad to be home after all that!
And, I’ve since had both Swiss Chalet and crispy bacon (though not at the same time, that would be too much awesome to handle).