Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting at the airport

For me, waiting at the airport is probably one of the most nerve racking things, especially when I have to depend on others for assistance because I am blind. In the normal scheme of things, waiting at a Canadian airport for my flight, whether it is domestic or international, usually goes relatively well.

I usually get assistance from the special services department at the airport. They meet me at the door and assist me to the airline’s counter. There they wait until my travel documents have been processed and my luggage checked in and then they escort me to the security check-in area. After I have been processed at the security area they then escort me to the departure gate and they make sure that I have boarded the aircraft before taking their leave.

If the airline that I am flying with is Air Canada, the Air Canada staff takes charge of assisting me as soon as I get to their check-in counter. All sounds well thus far but every now and then there is a hitch like everything else and I have to deal with spurts of anxiety. For example, if someone forgets to come and get me when passengers have been asked to board the aircraft, or when security personnel asks me to wait for someone to escort me to the gate and then there is no one to help me.

The arrival leg of my travels could be just as nerve racking for me. Particularly when I need to depend on sighted escorts to assist me through customs and immigration. I have not had too much trouble at Canadian airports but have had some anxious moments at some American airports.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and share my thoughts with others. Visit www.nfb.org to learn more about how blind and sight impaired persons navigate the airport.

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