So we recently went away to Turkey. It was our first time away since being diagnosed with FND.
After we booked the holiday we booked special assistance. This basically meant we got a wheelchair for the airport and help through certain parts at the airport. So I figured I would let you know how we got on and how useful it was.
Upon arrival we went to the assistance desk, however it transpired that we had to check in first. Now I can’t stand for long at all so when we saw the que I looked at Ste and said no way can I stand in that.
A lady who worked at the airport over heard us and said we could go down the premier check in aisle. So off we went. Straight down and checked in. Very quick and efficient.
Once this was done off we went back to the special assistance desk for the now much needed wheelchair.
So far Ste and I were a little bit erm ‘concerned’ with that fact that I had to walk a reasonable distance by this point but couldn’t get a chair until we had checked in. However I guess rules are rules and they are there for a reason. They did say we could wait for someone to help us and push me but to be honest we just wanted to get through security etc so we could go for some food.
So let’s fast forward to security. This wasn’t too bad. The staff where great and efficient. It wasn’t quick but that’s fine it is what it is.
For me I stayed in the chair and got searched while I was sat down. The bags got checked as usual as did my crutches.
Now that was done off we went for breakfast and a very large coffee.
Our next obstacle was negotiating through the shops and crowds of people, usually would have been fine however with bags and a wriggly toddler on your knee I can safely say I found it hard work. I’m sure Ste did too. He had my crutches on the back of the chair which meant avoid smacking people with them!!!!
The toilets etc was all fine. The hardest part as I said was having a restless and wriggly toddler on my knee with bags surrounding us.
When we had to go to the gate, that was when I started wishing we had got one of the airport staff to help us. We had to walk miles to the gate and it wasn’t easy. I think Ste was fed up by this point to be honest. Some of the walk way points where slightly up hill. Which I can’t imagine was easy for him.
Once we got to the gate, some of the staff helped us which meant Ste could watch Alfie whilst they pushed me.
We took the chair right up to the door of the plane and from there it was a short walk to my seat.
We where seated in row 11 which was very close to the toilet. Which is handy when you can’t walk far!
All in all the staff where great, the crowds and our wonderful restless toddler was hard to negotiate. That being said without the use of the chair we would have really struggled. In fact sod struggled I wouldn’t have made it through the airport.
When we arrived at Turkey, we had to wait for everyone else to leave the plane first. The staff where ready and waiting with wheelchairs at the door of the plane. I was popped in a chair and off I went! There was no messing around ha ha! Quick as a flash I was through the airport, through passport control. Ste had Alfie in tow with their hand luggage.
I was parked up at the baggage claim and sat in a chair and that was that ha ha!
From their I had a short (ish) walk to the private taxi transfer. This was such a blessing, it saved me so much struggle of sitting on a coach for hours on end and also the steps on the huge coach!
The staff at the hotel couldn’t do enough for us. They helped wherever possible from carrying my plate in the restaurant to calling the lift and offering the hotel’s wheelchair if I needed it.
On top of this. They also had a section on the beach which was disabled access. This meant you could use your wheelchair or in my case my walk aids all the way down to the front of the beach via the walkway. If you have never tried it trust me when I say that walking in sand with walking aids is bloody hard lol! So this was a blessing as it meant I had support for much longer.
So let’s talk about the special assistance going home……..
We where collected by a taxi from the hotel and taken to the airport. This was fantastic and do much easier than having to get on a coach and sit there for hours, plus the lack of leg room and huge steps. It was all arranged when we booked the holiday at no extra cost.
Due to circumstances beyond the staffs control. It all felt rather let’s say disjointed at Antalya Airport. I mean the staff where great.
However getting the chair was hard work. We found a small sign you will know the one – the international disabled sign – at an Emory desk (so no member of staff at the desk). Someone else who was on our flight was on the phone that was their for customers and had been waiting 20 minutes for a wheelchair. This was before check in had even been done!
We went through the first security section which was before check in. Then spotted the man in charge of us lot needing wheelchair assistance!!!! He told us to check in and that we didn’t have to wait long.
Off we went. However where to go exactly wasn’t clear and we waited in the regular que until we saw him again as he was bringing the other family.
Anyway when he saw us he ushered us to the correct place and we soon got checked in and I got my wheelchair. That was it then. Off we went!
Through passport control, another security desk everything. He was brilliant, friendly, and was working very hard. He explained that there was only him doing the job and he was sorry. I must admit I did feel bad for him.
As for getting through security, unlike Manchester Airport I did have to get out of the chair to walk through the walk way where they see if you have anything dodgy on you lol. However the staff where very good and held their arms out for me to hold on to at both sides.
Anyway once we had got through everything we asked him to leave us at the shops rather than take us to the gate. We managed ourselves from there as it was only a case of getting to the gate. Once at the gate the staff there would help us on to the plane.
Now let’s talk about when we arrived at Manchester Airport……..
Well. As mentioned earlier, when you land you have to wait for everyone to get off before you can leave. By which ooh t the staff should have arrived with chairs to help you down to baggage claim.
Firstly we had to wait a good 20 minutes, the crew where waiting to leave and the new crew waiting to board.
Then when help arrived, there weren’t enough chairs, or staff for us all. Then one guy ended up pushing us on a random wheelchair thing. Basically a line of chairs, however he made it very clear he wasn’t happy which I’m guessing was because of the lack of staff helping.
He was making rather stern comments about where the able bodied members of each of our families was meant to be. I asked Ste to wait with me.
By the time we got to baggage claim we had landed an hour ago. We where the only ones with bags left to claim and our taxi driver had rung 3 times to see where we were!
Although the wheelchair assistance on the way back was very useful. I have to say that the staff where under so much pressure and short staffed it unfortunately let the side down and it wasn’t as much as a pleasant experience ad on the way their.
I really hoped this helped for anyone else travelling with a disability.
If you don’t have a disability then I hope you found this a good insight into travelling by aeroplane with a disability.