Disability, My Life, Travel

Flight – Birmingham to New York City

The morning of our flight to New York, we had to get up at 5am. We had a taxi waiting outside our house to take us to Birmingham Airport.

Rushing to get our luggage together, we doubled checked we had everything for our holidays. Excited for the holiday, I made sure I had my hand luggage and got in the taxi and travelled to the airport.

Travelling through Birmingham, I felt excited but tired due to the early morning. However, I couldn’t help but noticing how beautiful the early morning actually was.

Once we got to the airport, the taxi driver helped us unload the luggage. Checking in all our bags, we made our way through the airport and signed in with one of the assistants whose job it was to help us on the plane and to our seats.

Going through security was long and stressful; putting our bags through the scanner and then being checked ourselves.

As a result of the scanner beeping due to the metal in my chair, a security member put on gloves and ran their hands around me to check I wasn’t hiding anything, being very thorough while being careful not to hurt me.

Then they wiped my chair over to check I wasn’t hiding anything on my wheelchair, which I wasn’t. However, when they found the allen keys and my medication in our bags, they tried to confiscate them.

Managing to convince them I needed them for my wheelchair and for medical reasons and the importance of them, we managed to retrieve them.

When we were through security and we got breakfast, then enjoyed looking around, grabbing sweets and more entertainment to take on the plane.

Twenty minutes before the plane was due to take off, we got summoned to board the plane.

As I would be sitting in a normal seat during the flight, the assistants lifted me from my chair and placed me in a smaller chair and began the long and complex routine of taking my electric wheelchair apart, taking extra precautions so it would easier to put my electric wheelchair in the hold.

Being on a smaller seat made it easier to wheel me onto the plane and to my seat.

As I was wheeled onto the plane, I felt unsteady in the strange seat; I didn’t have support around my posture, I felt even more unsteady when I was asked to keep upright and to tuck my arms and legs in while I went in between the aisles to stop me bumping them.

Struggling to sit up straight, I attracted the attention of the other passengers; causing them to stare at me. Just because I’m slightly different doesn’t give people right to stare at me gormlessly. The two assistants that helped me on the plane lifted me into an airplane seat; they were very nice and helpful.

The aircrew was also nice – they were patient in getting to my seat. As I sat on the seat, my back started hurting; the chair they used to get me on the plane was very uncomfortable. It was poorly designed especially for disabled people.

When the plane took off the aircrew offered to help, reassuring us that they were there if we needed any assistance.

When we were waiting to exit the plane, they were talking to us about what we were going to do in New York and also giving us recommendations on what to do and what sites and monuments to see.

The journey was seven hours and as I wasn’t a very confident flyer, I tried distracting myself as much as possible.

First I tried to sleep but it was too uncomfortable, whenever I did manage to drift off to sleep I kept jumping awake.

I ended up drinking lots of fizzy pop to keep myself awake. For our entertainment, passengers had mini monitors in the back of the seat in front of us which we could watch TV programs and movies during the flight.

A selection of which were my favorite films or films that I hadn’t watched in ages or new releases which I enjoyed watching.

I also decided to pack a coloring book and a notebook in my hand luggage to be able to immerse myself in coloring or writing therapy. I was surprised how well I could focus and how much writing and coloring I managed to get done on the plane.

Getting off the plane, I was shocked but pleased to see my wheelchair was already in one piece, dad only had to tighten up a few loose screws.

When we went to the baggage area to collect our bags, we were told there was a delay in getting the luggage from the plane to the baggage area and there was some trouble getting our bags.

We feared that we were going to lose some of our bags. The staff around the baggage area weren’t very helpful at all but luckily we managed to find all of our luggage. Once we acquired our luggage, we looked for a disabled toilet but were told there wasn’t one in the airport or nearby.

When we requested for them to tell us where one was, the airport staff didn’t tell us, which was annoying, and very unhelpful.

As it was our first time we entered America, we had to go through immigration, which meant we had to have visas and our fingerprints taken to make sure they matched the passports, we had to do this as well as the usual checks at customs.

Getting through security, we took a small train into New York City; this was an unusual and different experience.

When we got to Penn Station, we struggled to find a way out, after asking everywhere and many failed attempts we finally found a way into Wal-Mart, a small supermarket and took a lift and were able to get out onto the main streets of New York.

Unable to find an accessible taxi, we gave mom the luggage and put her in a taxi to go to the hotel while dad and I walked through Time Square.

On walking through Times Square, I looked around at the terrific sites and spotted various places we could go to eat and drink; finally finding The Blakely Hotel.



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