This is going to turn into a bit of a travel blog for the next few days!
I’m writing this from the Isle of Man, but it’s been a bit of a challenge getting here.
I’d finally accepted that I could do with some help when travelling, so had requested special assistance from the airline. Which I thought I’d managed to do online. And when I checked in at the machine, a message came up saying that I needed to go and actually speak to a person. Which all gave me a sense that everything was going according to plan.
I tried to explain to the person that I’d requested assistance but he just thought I wanted to check in bags. I was getting increasingly anxious and the only thing he asked was whether I felt confident to fly today. Then he directed me to just go through security – which is one of the things that I thought I’d booked assistance with (the airline’s website refers to an ‘escort’ from check in to the plane).
Luckily security wasn’t busy. Although I was still getting increasingly panicked.
Managed to calm myself down once I got through, and came up with a plan B – to ask at the gate. As the other thing I need when boarding a plane is to get on early so I can get myself settled and not get caught in a queue (I often manage to get this when I can’t walk too well). This is something else that the special assistance allegedly offers.
That didn’t work well either.
The person at the gate said that people with mobility issues needed to get on last for safety reasons. I tried to explain that wasn’t why I’d requested assistance (and I don’t have mobility issues today anyway). Again, she didn’t understand what I was saying. Anxiety hit again. Trying to calm myself down by playing with my koosh ball and starting to tap my fingers on my leg. It wasn’t really working. To the extent that the gate staff decided to call someone to make a decision on whether I was OK to fly as I seemed so nervous.
Luckily, that person actually listened. This is where the label is helpful – being able to explain that I’m anxious because I’m autistic and my special assistance request didn’t work, and all I need at this point is to be able to get on the plane early.
So I ended up getting part of the help I need and had requested.
We’ll see what happens on the way back. Not particularly looking forward to it.
The Isle of Man’s lovely, though, from what I’ve seen so far. And this is the travel / photo blog bit:
On the bus from the airport
A new friend
Panorama shot of Port St Mary