LOW COST AIRLINES:

We all fall for those really cheap €1.00 tickets and then find out that it is really 50/60/70 Euro by the time they have added all those little ‘extras’ and it’s only one way. You need a whole other ticket to get home again which for some curious reason is always more expensive ! They all, without exception, have crammed in extra seats and it is hard work and painful to get in and out of the very squashed seating. But in fairness if you are there and the plane is there and the Gods are in your favour, then it can work. But no amount of praying is going to help you if one part goes out of kilter.
My son and I were in Pisa, Italy one January and the Ryanair flight was 3 hours late arriving to collect us to take us back to Stansted in the UK. Ergo, we arrived 3 hours late and, as with all Ryanair terminals, about what seemed like 12 miles from the Departure Terminal ! Ryanair have this quaint procedure that you have to check in and check out for each flight you take. No in-transit rubbish for them !
I had allowed about 3 hours between flights to accommodate my being in a wheelchair, but it was nearing the departure time for our ongoing flight to Cork so we decided to split up. Mark ran to collect our luggage from arrivals and I ditched the wheelchair and trotted as fast as I could to the check-in desk and met him there. But hey, it was 35 minutes before the departure time and they wouldn’t let us on the flight. Pointing out that our lateness was due to the no-show of their own plane got us exactly nowhere. Rule 28b subsection c (of those endless pages which you download with your ticket and never read) say you have to leave a four hour time lag between each flight ! It really does !! It also didn’t help that I had ditched the wheelchair and couldn’t go for the sympathy vote ! We were offered a flight to Dublin that was going later that night and for which we would have to pay and they couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t go there instead – after all, it was Ireland, wasn’t it? No amount of telling them that Dublin is several hundred miles from Cork where our car was parked had any effect. No we just had to buy all new tickets for Cork at a specially high price for ‘last minute booking’, then pay for a hotel to stay in near Stansted and then get up at 5am the next morning – all just to get back to Cork.
If you really want to get frustrated and stressed and set off a full blown flare-up of your RA try complaining on line (or by phone) when you get back………..
My other trouble with low cost airlines is that they all have the smallest check-in hold luggage allowance and yet you can take up to 10 kilos of hand luggage, if you can shift it ! And boy oh boy, do they make you pay for each extra kilo. I have to put practically everything in my hold luggage as I find it so difficult to clutch the things I have to carry. Some airlines insist that you can only take one item through the security check point and I got stopped for carrying a handbag and a book as 2 items of luggage. Unfortunately the book would not fit in the handbag and as I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t go back outside again to buy a larger handbag (as they suggested to my wheelchair handler !) they charged me £60 for the extra item. Daylight robbery !!
Do you wonder that I now save up my cents to travel Business Class which has a whole new experience of flying – especially for the disabled.

THE BIONIC GRANDMA !

If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, you are probably no stranger to having various bits of your anatomy replaced at one time or another and all of these will set the alarm bells ringing when you pass through Security at an airport. When I first had surgery to replace a hip, the hospital gave me a letter stating this fact. I still have it, and to date no-one has asked to see it ! Mind you, at Brisbane Airport my new hip did not set off the alarm and they kept passing me through and through the security gate trying to set it off ! Now with an added knee replacement and two titanium feet, I don’t stand a chance ! I get the security pat down like it or not, but at least my watch which used to set off the alarms at Cork airport before I got RA, passes through un-noticed !
Because I travel so often, I am well aware of what you can, and cannot, take through security. This prompts great suspicion that I simply must be carrying something illegal ! I take off my coat/jacket, never travel with a belt, but just try asking for a chair to take your shoes off with! Oh the suspicion of it all – a granny shoe bomber who has to sit down !
Mind you I am always more than willing to comply being reminded of a young man in front of us after going through several security checks in Istanbul after a bomb had gone off that morning in the City. We were leaving to come home and endured security check after security check . Then at the last one they made us all take off our shoes and lo and behold the young man in front of us had a small knife in his shoe! He’s probably still fading away in some prison somewhere judging from all the armed cops that fell on him and we were pushed on to the plane still with our shoes off – but at least I could sit down in my seat and put them back on !
My handbag was tested for explosives recently in Cairns with one of those long probes with a special bit put on the end. Of course it was OK, though I always feel as if I am looking terribly guilty of something or other. However the lady doing the probe was far more interested in if I had seen Steven Spielberg at Mossman where apparently they we’re filming a war movie with 400 extras and bombing the beaches ! Seeing as how we were staying just up the road from this tiny town with a population of less than the extras, she was finding it harder and harder to believe that I hadn’t noticed being bombed whilst lying on the quietest, most beautiful beach it has ever been my
privilege to lie on. Maybe they were filming the crawling through the Daintree rain forest bit whilst we were there because they all passed unnoticed to my laid back, laid down personage !

(Newell Beach – Far North Queensland)

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