Friday, July 31, 2009

Journey of Change Part 6: I Flew All The Way From AZ to PA - Boy Are My Arms Tired!

(Wednesday July 29th) Okay… booo… bad joke!
I have a question for everyone out there? Is it just me, or does it seem that the greater our technology, the more stupid or inept people become? I just don’t understand why people cannot do their jobs correctly. Do I sound a little harsh? Let me explain:
When my husband purchased my tickets a couple of weeks ago from US Air he had talked with a an agent to purchase two seats on the plane for me since it is too uncomfortable for me to sit in one of their seats and he asked for special assistance for me as well. The agent assured us that everything was reserved and we even printed our reservations.
The day of my flight, we stood in line to receive my “hard copy” of my ticket. As the agent proceeded to print out my boarding passes she realized that on my flight from Phoenix, AZ to Philadelphia, PA I had one seat in the front of the plane and another seat in the back of the plane! On my flight from Philadelphia to Harrisburg I had one seat in front of the other. Hum, I guess I am to chop my body in two! She quickly took care of the situation and apologized for the incompetence and inconvenience this caused us. She also approved three carryon bags. One small bag with a change of clothes, personal items etc; my computer as my “purse”; and the other was for my bipap machine. We had to fight for the bipap to go on the plane as a carry on. Our reasoning…the past few times I have flown, my luggage did not arrive until the next day or two! So, since I need the bipap machine to sleep when I lay down (or I could die) we did not want to take a chance that it would not arrive. They finally approved three carryon bags.
My husband had her double check that I receive assistance and a wheelchair for each destination as he had previously arranged. Yes, I am walking, but I do not walk too far and I am not to lift more than 20 lbs. So she filled out all the paperwork and entered the information into the computer. I had various copies of this special assistance ticket to give to each agent and a flight attendant on the plane. At each destination I was to have someone meet me at the gate with a wheelchair and take me to my next gate. A sky cap came over with a wheelchair to take me to security and my gate. She also gave Jim a pass to go all the way to the gate with me as well. As the sky cap wheeled my over to the special helps desk, he left me there and never returned! So Jim pushed me with one hand and with the other he pushed the baggage cart. We both went through security, and Jim took me all the way to the gate. No one helped take my bags on the plane! As I got on the plane my bags kept dropping. I was holding up the line and my seats were all the way in the back of the plane (row 32 of 33 rows). Two women passengers out of frustration said to the flight attendants who were just standing there watching me struggle with my baggage, “someone please help this woman”. They did nothing! So, one of the women passengers took one of the bags and headed towards the back until she arrived to her seat. She then grabbed an attendant by the arm and shoved the bag in her arms and said, “Earn your salary and help this woman!” Ooops… not a good thing to say, I was treated poorly the whole flight and I wasn’t the one who said it! I finally got settled in my “seats”, and a sweet elderly gentleman sat in the aisle seat. We had a lovely chat off and on throughout our 4 1/2 hour flight.
We finally arrived in Philadelphia with according to my ticket, only 30 minutes until boarding. The 81 year old gentleman beside me said he would help me get off the plane. We had found that his connecting flight was going to be just a few gates from mine, so he decided to make sure I get to where I was to go. As we were leaving the plane, one of the flight attendants said, “Your wheelchair is right outside the door.” Wow, I thought, this is great! A wheelchair was there…. But no one was there to take me to my next gate! Just a chair! The older gentleman was carrying one of my bags, and I was pulling my bag on wheels with the bipap machine on it, and a cane in the other arm. We came across what we thought was a “helper” for the airport. I showed her my special needs ticket. She replied, “You will have to wait for one of the carts that go around picking people up and take people to their gates when they can.” A cart finally came by, and they had room for the both of us. She drove the opposite way we needed to go to take others to their gates. After 20 minutes, she finally stopped (not too far from and said “you two get off here and walk down there and go down the escalator and to the shuttle to your concourse.” What? We “jump” off and headed over to the escalator and I told the person there that I cannot go on that with my bags. They pointed to the elevator. So we went down the elevator and stood in a long line for the shuttle. The older gentleman told someone that I needed to get there now, my flight leaves soon. So they said we could get on the shuttle. A “helper” took my two bags (one of which is my bipap) and threw them in the shuttle!
As we arrived, the older gentleman that has so graciously been with me this whole time, said to a worker nearby that I needed assistance and my plane was leaving soon. The worker said to wait for one of the carts that drive around the airport. I said, “I’m not waiting, I need to get to my plane.” So off we went again on foot. As we finally arrive to my gate we saw that the little commuter plane I was to fly from Philadelphia to Harrisburg had not arrived yet. We both breathed a sigh of relief for a moment; I told the gentleman that he was a God-send, gave him a big hug and we gave each other our best wishes.
As I sat in the airport waiting for my flight, I met some other passengers who proceeded to tell me their ordeals with US Air as well. They were very concerned about my plight, and lack of assistance that a few women seemed to adopt me as their project and volunteered to help me until I reached my final destination. I was so humbled and thankful that the Lord brought so many “Good Samaritans” along my path this day; for without them I dare not even think of what would have happened to me! When I needed to go to the bathroom they watched my bags for me; and when we finally boarded the plane almost 2 hours later, they carried my bags; when we finally arrived in Harrisburg they were ready to assist me there as well; they were my angels of mercy.
We found out that our little plane was delayed due to the poor weather conditions. After it finally arrived and they were ready for us to board the agent opened the door to our gate for us to board the plane, as we all gathered a man came in from outside and said “close the gate, the airport is shut down due to the weather.” We had a torrential downpour for about 30 minutes! The rain stopped and we could finally board our plane.
As I got on the plane the flight attendant assisted me to my seat. I proceeded to tell her my ordeal and mistreatment from US Air and she apologized and said that she will make sure I get assistance in Harrisburg. True to her word, immediately as I stepped off the plane there was a sky cap with a wheelchair and he took me baggage claims and loaded my luggage and literally took me to the curb! I told him that I had family waiting for me for at least 2 hours and that they would not be outside waiting. He said this is where people meet, and with that he left me right there on the curb! I thought to myself, “What am I to do now?” I called my sister to see if she could try to call my mom on her cell phone. Of course mom could not hear her cell phone. As I started to load my bags onto the wheelchair so I could go inside to page my mom and aunt, low and behold my aunt runs outside and says, “what are you doing out here? We thought we lost you!” She gave me a big hug, and told me to wait right there while she gets my mother and they get the car.
I gave out the biggest sigh of relief. I am finally HOME I thought to myself! Wow, after 33 years, many trials, tribulations, and blessings I have finally returned HOME to my birthplace. This feels good… this feels right….God is good…. It will all work together for good… I am HOME! Now Lord, bring my family safely HOME as well.


Karen said...

You poor lady...what an ordeal...thankful for your angels that helped out....

bp said...

Wow, what a trip! I have been thinking of you and prayed for your safety.

Donetta said...

Oh Michele what a journey...I am so sorry to hear of the bigotry and rudeness of the experience. Wow! I am using Delta to go to FL in Oct. I am so glad the warning about US Air.

Donetta said...

Michele remember how your really in truth the beautiful worthy of all love and kindness that you are. The example that they gave was a lie...the way they behaved a lie.

Cathy said...

I'm sorry for that very frustrating trip , Michele. I'm glad you are home. Praying for God to meet all the needs of your family ~

Erin Huggins said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. Glad you back home. Wish you all the best. God Bless you.


Denise said...

I love you, and will not stop praying for you and your family.

Charlotte said...

My goodness what a relief it must have been for you to finally get to your destination. I'm sorry you had such a rough time but I'm glad there were other passengers who were so helpful to you.