I met up with T and G for lunch today. The topic of airplane crashes came up and we somehow got onto the topic of embarrassing moments when flying which then lead to us swapping war stories (flying deaf experiences).
Let me just say that…as a deaf person, I just never know what to expect when traveling. I never know if I will run into ignorant employees or if I will be at a complete loss as to what’s going at (due to not being able to hear announcements). Although in the end it does keep life exciting and interesting. 🙂
For some reason my carry on luggage always seems to get searched. Airport employees are trained to zoom in on anyone who may be acting “unusual.” Oftentimes I end up being watched like a hawk when I don’t answer to auditory comments because I’m busy looking at something else. For some reason not responding to a comment seems to rise a red flag. So I oftentimes make the mistake of being too overly alert to ensure that I don’t miss any instructions. This then results in employers watching me like a hawk once again thinking that I’m going to make a run for it through security or something.
PLEASE, I WANT MY LUGGAGE TO ARRIVE WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO ARRIVE
I flew pretty often when I was attending graduate school in NYC and I quickly learned the importance of flying with the same airline. Why? Because every airline does their check-in and boarding differently. That drives me up the wall. I remember one time I ended up flying with a different airline because it was a lot cheaper than my usual airline. Their check-in process was for you to “check in” at a computer and then if you had luggage to check in they would call your name. Uhhh whaaa?!? So I’m standing there with a crowd of people waiting to check in my luggage and trying to lipread 3 different people who had their back to me half of the time and were walking up/down behind the desk. Somehow I managed to catch my name…so I went up with my luggage. I wasn’t 100% sure they had called my name so I tried to verify with the lady that she was putting the correct tag on my bag. She refused to look at me (I couldn’t lipread her from the angle she was at) and she wouldn’t write it down. It got to the point where I had to literally be rude and just grab the tag out of her hand to confirm. Sorry, but I don’t want my luggage to end up in China when I’m flying to Kansas.
Once I was given the wrong boarding ticket. I had been looking at something when the ticket person was talking to me and I didn’t bother to check my ticket. It wasn’t until I got to security line that I got a threatening look. I then explained that I was deaf and asked him what he said. He said that the name on my driver’s license didn’t match the name on the ticket. Whoopies. I scurried pretty quickly out of there and got the correct ticket.
STANDBY FLIGHTS. I CAN NEVER MAKE THOSE.
Announcements. Seriously. I hate them. I can hear them coming on but can’t understand them. I hate when my flight’s delayed and I have no idea why. I hate when it’s delayed and I don’t know how long the delay is. Some airport employers are kind enough and will write down information. However, their priority is…honestly…to serve the hearing customers first because that’s what they’re more comfortable doing and that’s what they’re trained to do. So I always get the information last. An example: I was flying to Kansas for Thanksgiving and found out that my flight was delayed. I notified the desk person by the gate that I was deaf and to please keep me updated. She failed to do so and I kept having to nag her. A couple of hours later I saw a couple of people from the same gate get up and walk over to the next gate. A couple of them had Kansas (KU) sweatshirts on. I put two and two together and figured that there was another flight to KC and that a bunch of people originally on my flight had asked to be put on standby for the later flight. I jumped up and rushed to the desk asking if there were any seats left. Of course there weren’t any.… I had been the first person sitting there for my flight and I could have very easily gotten on the next flight as a standby if someone had been kind enough to keep me updated or if the airport had visual announcements. I was not a happy camper when I finally made it to Kansas at 3 or 4 am when I was supposed to arrive at 8 or 9pm.
HIGH SPEED CHASE
Ah yes then there’s the time I got chased down the ramp because apparently I boarded at the wrong time. People, it would make both my and your life easier if you would make eye contact and didn’t mumble when talking. Not just for me but for hearing people also. If you don’t make eye contact and you mumble I’m going to just assume you’re talking to yourself and not me…which will result in me going against your instruction and boarding when I’m not supposed to which then results in a huge scene when I end up getting chased down by an employer.
LEAVING A TRAIL
There was the time where I had a connecting flight in Ohio and I was running like a crazy lady through the airport trying to catch the connecting flight. I ran for a good 3-5 minutes with a bunch of people screaming at me (and not hearing them) before I happened to turn around and saw a few people standing behind me….with a long trail of all my stuff that flew out of my backpack (the zipper broke in middle of my high speed run). Yes, I missed my connecting flight because I had to turn around and collect my scattered items. I got on a later flight but wasn’t even sure I was on the correct flight. It was at one of those airports that had several different flights from the same gate. I was relieved to find myself in NY a couple of hours later and not Florida.
There was only one time where I got worried because I couldn’t hear what was going on. I was flying to Hawaii and had several layovers. I heard an announcement come on over the speakers right when we were supposed to land. I then saw people’s reactions and knew something was up. However, I was stuck way in the back…in the corner and couldn’t get the stewardess’ attention. We landed half an hour late but no one was getting off the plane. Finally this old couple next to me explained that we had landed at a different airport and had to chill there before heading back to the correct airport. They failed to explain WHY…so of course the first thing that comes to mind was that…this can’t be good (it was sunny and everything outside). I thought maybe something had happened and they had to ground all flights. I found out 2 hours later that it was the weather (even though it looked perfectly fine at that time).
I STALK SO I DON’T GET YELLED AT
I have been yelled at several times when I try to board with the wrong boarding group. 75% of the time I can stalk people and find someone else with the same boarding number and discreetly follow them. Seriously, it would be so much easier to lipread if they made announcements without holding the thingy right in front of their lips….makes it a bit difficult to lipread when one doesn’t have x-ray vision 😉
YES, WE ARE PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF TRAVELING BY OURSELVES
T and I flew a lot when we backpacked in Europe last year (flights were $10-30). I can’t remember where we were at (maybe Ireland?) but we spent a good 15 minute trying to convince the ticket person that we did not need any special assistance. Even then they didn’t believe us and wouldn’t give us our tickets until they made a call to their supervisor/boss.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
I still haven’t had my hands held while being escorted to my gate nor have I been ordered to sit in a wheelchair…yet… I’ve heard of this happening fairly often. What experiences (if any) have you had as a deaf person traveling?
It can be frustrating but one has to laugh when these things happen. It certainly spices things up.
MY MOST EMBARRASSING FLYING MOMENT
Sooooo…..I’ve always talked in my sleep. I tend to fall asleep when flying. Sometimes I wake up to a bunch of people staring at me funny.