Tom is a Research Fellow at Newcastle University. His non-fiction books include Genetics Politics: from Eugenics to Genome and The Sexual Politics of Disability.
Who needs airport assistance?
5th June 2009
The main obstacle the pair of them seemed to be labouring under was having way too much cabin baggage. As well as several suitcases, they had a rolled-up carpet and several bin liners full of tat. Having monopolised the special assistance, they then filled all the overhead lockers in their vicinity with their possessions. During the flight, mother stood and stretched and wandered around the cabin with no sign of a limp or any other mobility impairment, yet when we touched down at London's Heathrow airport she was magically rendered incapacitated and in need of urgent help.
Well, I’m sorry, but before I was a wheelchair user, I was pretty rubbish at walking long distances, but I never booked special assistance on my own behalf. I figured that there were other people who had a greater need for it. This week at Heathrow, speaking to the nice guy who pushed me all the way to the train, he confirmed that what we had witnessed was far from unusual. He told me that almost every week he is allocated one or two people to support who, in his view, are not actually disabled. For example, a passenger might let him push them across the airport, only to leap up and skip happily into a cab once they reach the taxi rank.
Anyway, rant over; must go, I have a flight to catch. Now just don’t mention global warming to me, will you?
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