My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Flight #30 - All my Assertive Skills used

We returned home this evening from Portland (ah, such a beautiful place with wonderful people and this weekend we added some more memories and friends to share - such beauty to share in our next post). This post is about our experience on the flight home. This flight was Cricket's 30th plane ride as a working girl! Fortunately, most of these flights have been pretty uneventful and smooth (with helpful people along the way). Yes, a few incidents of added challenges that have had to exercise my assertive and advocacy skills. Tonight began as pretty uneventful - Debi had gotten clearance to walk me to the gate and we were sitting there spending our final minutes talking when a attendant from Delta (yes, I will say my most frustrating experiences have been on Delta)came up and said ... I am sorry our flight attendant is scared of dogs and we will need to move your seat. (It was a small plane and I was in bulk head). I calmly said that I needed to keep the seat I had been given. He said he would go talk to the flight attendant and maybe if the flight attendant met my dog she would be okay ... I said, that would be fine ... but I would be getting on this plane. He came back after a few minutes and said -- I'm sorry but she cannot let you on the plane! I again said, I will be on the plane and you might want to educate her on the Americans with Disabilities Act - I also told him she certainly did not need to get close to my dog at all and that my dog would not bother her at all. He again went to talk to her on the plane (by this time it was time to board so I was concerned we were going to be holding up the plane). Finally a CRO officer came to talk to her and informed her that she needed to allow me on the plane. By this time I was shaking but mustered all my courage and knew that this was a time I needed to assert myself and not allow a flight attendant who was afraid of dogs not allow me to get on the plane.
I am so grateful for the Americans with Disabilities Act!
I boarded the plane and she would not talk to me ... except on a couple ocassions she let me know Cricket's tail was in the foot room of the seat next to me (which by the way no one was sitting in that seat!) I find my assertive skills are tested at times with a Guide Dog ... I can totally respect her dog issue and my guide dog was not going to enter into her space at all ... but she also must respect our right to board the plane and sit in our seat. I will be writing to Delta and alerting them of the unnecessary situation. (I'll post the addres for others that want to write also) It is my responsibility to continue to educate. These unnecessary experiences are happening still too often. We will always remember Cricket's Flight #30.

10 comments:

2 labs 4 me said...

I hate that you had to go through this unpleasant experience. After our fun weekend together, I felt awful that you had to end your Portland trip this way. I am shocked by the way Delta handled this issue. I will be writing a letter to them as well. I am ready to boycott Delta & spread the word to all my friends. You have had too many unpleasant dealings with this airline.

Lacey said...

Wow!! That is so unbelievable!! That is such an awful thing to go through. You are so brave for standing so firm...I would have been crying because I was so upset with them. I can't believe they can treat people like this! I am going to send a letter too! Way to go Becky for hanging in there and putting up with her rudeness!!
Luvs!

Cabana's Puppy Raiser said...

Way to assert yourself, Becky! You are educating people all around you with your example. My sister is like the flight attendant--very afraid of animals. There is no "reason" to their fear because it's not based on fact, only emotion. But my sister visited us over Easter and it was a good experience. Cabana was calm around my sister and "left her alone", and it did a lot to improve my sister's tolerance of dogs. I'm sure that you and Cricket had the same impact on the flight attendant. Next time, hopefully, the flight attendant will be a bit more trusting and pleasant toward service dogs and all dogs in general. Although you had to pay the price, I truly believe that good came out of the situation--and that's because you--and Cricket--handled it so well!

Luna and Sole' said...

I also want to send a letter! Guide Dogs have come a long way in the past years, it is a shame that you had to go through this at all! I hope you got names! I am also a puppy raiser, and the ADA is a great law! I know we always have a copy with us where-ever we go. Not that it makes much of a difference at times. This should never have happened!

Sandra (Luna and Sole; too)

OSU 98 said...

Wow - I can't believe that she thought her fear was going to trump the law. That someone actually allowed the conversation to be get past stage 1 should be considered an embarassment to the airline. Clearly, there is a lack of training here - seeming to show itself at every encounter you have with this vendor. Please post the address so I can send a letter as well.

Ezra's family said...

Hi Becky, I'm glad you were able to visit GDB in Portland and congrats to Cricket for her 30th plane trip, sorry you had deal with the difficult confrontation and flying situation though! I am impressed that you could stand your ground and not be intimidated. I would love it if you posted a photo of Ezra's Tree. I am curious to see if it is in bloom yet and anxious to see it in person, which probably won't happen for a another couple months. Does it have a plaque up yet? Thank you for taking a photo, that was very thoughtful of you. Yours truly, Ezra's mom - Kandice.

Dan and Suzy said...

Oh Becky. . . .
Man. . .this is too crazy! Glad you are trained in communications and had all the tools necessary to stand your ground with calm confidence. Even if you were shaking.
I will write too.
O My God!
Love, Susan

Natalie said...

i seriously don't know why you don't boycott Delta!!! They are awful!!

karen (Mom) said...

You go girl!! Proud of your assertive and appropriate behavior. I am so sorry that there are such unknowing people. We will write as well. Maybe I'll write Michelle Obama - kind of think it is an issue she might champion.

Love Dad and Mom

Becky said...

Thank you for your support everyone. Part of having a Guide Dog is being an advocate and educating and appreciate all of your help in this effort! We have come so far ... but every once in a while am reminded of much that still needs to be done.