So we’ve got our holiday booked (Planes, trains and automobiles). I’ve packed (almost) all of our belongings and we’re ready to go. It’s an early start. The enormous taxi is booked for 2.30am to carry us and our mountain of suitcases to the airport.
On arrival we make ourselves known to Special Assistance. We’re reassured that they know Quinns’ name and were expecting us. We get given a VIP lanyard to get us through check-in and security. We manage Quinns in his support buggy (the Bug) and the luggage including the car seat on two trolleys between the three of us (remember Big Sister is only 7 and pushing a full trolley worth of luggage!)
Check-in desk ask us if we need assistance at the gate and we say yes please. They phone to check that that will happen. Now our hold luggage is checked in, we still have 4 hand luggage bags, the car seat and Quinns, of course. That means we still need one trolley but we’re not allowed it beyond security. Somehow we manage to the gate.
Special assistance passengers get called to board first but there’s still no-one to help us. In an attempt to be helpful we suggest Dad goes first with Big Sister to get the car seat installed while I wait behind with Quinns and a couple of bags. We watch while all the other passengers walk past. Parents of small children leave their buggy’s beside us. I get sympathy and reassurance from a member of the cabin crew. She’d help but she needs to stay at the gate till boarding is finished.
Special assistance finally arrive. He takes Quinns in the Bug leaving me with the luggage. I’m not entirely comfortable with him walking off with my 2-year-old but he’s here to help. He explains that they don’t take luggage onto planes nor do they help children on because parents usually prefer to carry their own child.
By now we’re at the door of the plane. I need to lift Quinns, the luggage that was left behind and also collapse the Bug so it could go in the hold. No, it was never going to happen!
I leave my special assistant with the Bug and the luggage and attempt to get onto the now crowded plane. To help you visualise I’m only 5ft tall and Quinns weighs about 13kg and is floppy like a rag doll.
Cabin crew have to radio to the crew at the back to tell Dad he needs to come back to the door to bring the luggage on and collapse the Bug. Fortunately the majority of passengers he had to squeeze past (he’s a bit taller than me at 6ft) were reasonably sympathetic.
So I’m fairly sure we made some mistakes ourselves but it was our first time (where was the information telling us what to expect and not expect – some sort of a leaflet from Special Assistance would have been good). Surely we’re not the first parents of a child with CP that Special Assistance have helped get onto a plane but it certainly felt like it! I’d love to hear other people’s experiences so we can hopefully do it better next time.