Posts Tagged ‘Fliegen’

Helicopter flight above Sri Lanka

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Sri Lanka, all that green and no apple trees

We were suitably picked up by a driver named “Amigo”, sporting aviator mirror sunglasses, in a silver-colored Hummer (as labeled on the hood, yet with a Honda logo at the steering wheel) and brought to the military airport in Colombo.

We were greeted by a welcome committee ready with a wheelchair, in which Lieutenant Dan probably sat already. Fortunately, they let me use my own.

We were the only tourists at the entire airport. The security chief himself took care of us right away. Our tour guide did honor to his name when he was suddenly back in the security area before us, because the security chief happened to be an old classmate of his.

Meanwhile the four bored immigration attendants were waiting in their turquoise blue saris for the end of their work day.

A golf cart pulled up equipped with mountings for flags, so strictly speaking a diplomat’s car. I started to feel like celebrity ;-) After some negotiation I was allowed to make the 100 meters to the launch site in my chair. For that I was accompanied by one of the turquoise wrapped ladies as a personal umbrella holder and also by two of my very own security guards. In my entourage puttered the golf cart with the three other passengers, one more sari-lady and even more security. Did I have a sign “Follow Me” on my vest?!

Arriving at the helicopter we were greeted by the pilot while another three men came from the hangar. I guess, I was the highlight of the day, perhaps even month, and everybody wanted to be there when the crazy white wheelchair man boarded the helicopter.

Approx. twelve men stood around me and waited for a command, how to best get me up and in there (seat height was about 1.40 m). The well proven safety grip did not work in this case.

As a result my old dream of a palanquin wheelchair was almost met, when four men lifted my wheelchair up to entrance height, from where I could with the help of my slide board comfortably slide on to the seat. This way my slide board literally turned in to a flight board ;-) The ground troops were thrilled! For a short while I felt like sitting on a throne, since everybody else was still down on the ground. I was tempted to wave to my people like the Queen, but then rather decided on a shy thumbs-up. What an uplifting feeling! It is indeed very special for someone who sits in a wheelchair, to suddenly be the tallest person around ;-)

We were flying towards the middle of the island to Kandy, and the pilot managed nicely to stay ahead of the looming monsoon rains.

The view of the island was, particularly of the highlands, comparable with the landscapes that one knows from films like Platoon and Forrest Gump. Everything is green, tea plantations and more palm trees than I have ever seen in 1 1/2 hours (and no apple trees – no apple trees, just pineapples!)

Shortly before landing, the pilot radioed that he needed more time to get ground clearance, since he had a wheelchair on board. To us this seemed a little exaggerated, because there was certainly not any more traffic than at the airport Kassel-Calden at rush-hour, (one plane the day). But everything must have its order ;-)

Back on the ground we already saw two men, who pushed my wheelchair from the hangar. One of them examined my sliding board from all sides in sheer fascination. I suspect he started that evening to work the jigsaw ; -) He must have been quite disappointed when it wasn’t used again for the transfer back from the helicopter…

Instead, the classical safety grip/throwing technique came to use, so that after the roundtrip the departure happened by a wheelchair spot landing. The Pilot was obviously impressed, because he said: “I know my game”.

On the way back the same welcome committee was awaiting us including umbrella holder, security guards and golf cart. The weather god was also gracious and only changed his mind after I was safe in my wheelchair again. Then the sky opened and the monsoon season greeted us. My personal umbrella holder kept walking next to me, unmoved by the fact that she got drenched, but she probably was used to this kind of downpour – her only comment was “It’s just rain”.

I would have liked to show you more evidence, but since we are talking about a military airport and members of the military, we held back a little on the photo shooting. A checkup of the accessibility of the local military jail was not part of the itinerary…

To read the complede “Sri Lanka- serial” , click here.

Translator BW

Wheelchair expedition Sri Lanka Part III

Friday, May 29th, 2015

对不起,此内容只适用于Deutsch

Wheelchair expedition Sri Lanka Part II

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Next we needed to select the airline. Since Sri Lankan Airlines is the only one that offers direct flights from Frankfurt and also because our friend is a flight attendant with them (a few connections can’t hurt – see older Blog: food on wings), this was our choice. Various airlines from the Gulf States also offer flights to Sri Lanka, but of course not direct.

Sri Lankan Airlines allows 30 kg free baggage per person plus carry-on; my wheelchair plus a second one if needed, would also be free.

However, I had to make some phone calls (my “favorite activity” ), until I got the confirmation that both my bathroom chair “Artosy”, which can be folded to fit in a hard case, as well as other medical aids would be carried for free, even without prior notification.

(Up to then I only knew that all expedients must be declared in advance. This info is as always without guarantee.)

In addition Sri Lankan Airlines still wanted some a kind of a medical form signed by my family doctor. Always something new…

The “International Medical Information Form” was what felt like the eighth fax copy of a micro script in English, which was hard to decipher before translation.

For a readable PDF-version of the questionnaire of Air Berlin click here.

Medizinisches Informationsformular (deutsch): Teil I und Teil II

Medical Information Form (englisch): Part II and Part II

Since I needed some additional vaccinations for precaution, and also a certificate for my meds, my Doc got to see me quite often during the weeks before the vacation.

At the end our luggage pile equaled that of an emigration! Between the 4 of us we hauled 5 suitcases incl. bathroom chair, 3 carry-ons, 1 XL-Wheelchair Backpack and 2 oversized women’s purses. Had there been a film crew from VOX, it wouldn’t have surprised me. However, despite shower chair and other tools we still had 30 kg unused capacity. We only declared my Rolli as special baggage.

Yay, 30kg free luggage for Souvenirs on the return flight – … the creditcard might get hot!

To be continued…

Click here to go to older blogs on the subject of “flying with a wheelchair”

To read all parts of the “Sri Lanka-Series” click here.

Translator BL

Wheelchair expedition Sri Lanka Part I

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

对不起,此内容只适用于EnglishDeutsch

Eigude Shame Part XXVII

Friday, November 28th, 2014

对不起,此内容只适用于Deutsch

Technical Aids Tips and Tricks XXIX

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Flying with a wheelchair!!!

It is actually no big secret, but I am asked again and again how I make it into the plane, because as is known I am neither able to walk, jump nor hop.

The answer is very easy, with a plane wheelchair and two strong guys!!

When the plane has docked at the gate I move with my own wheelchair to the plane door.

If you have an outside position you drive to the plane with a normal bus.
From there you move upwards to the height of the plane with a

plane lifting bus

If this “Beam me up Scotty Bus” is even working properly you should be the first at the upper door (the other passengers are coming from the other side of the plane).
I have already experienced this differently, (see older blogpost).

In this bus two kind airport employees help you with the transfer from your own wheelchair to the worldwide similar

plane wheelchair (model on the left)

On this piece of equipment you are pulled through the plane until you arrive at a special seat row where you can fold up the armrest to the aisle.

Then the famous “dwarf tossing” to the window seat can start…!!!

Don’t be afraid, the guys know what they are doing!!! ;-)

This time we have set a new record on the return flight, only 1 hour 40 minutes from landing until leaving the airport building. :-(

Click here on “Flying” to read stories all about “Flying with a wheelchair”.

Many years ago, I have worked at a beverage wholesaler, and the plane wheelchair always reminds me a bit of a sack truck with chair.

Translator BL

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Wishing you all a “Happy New Year”, especially health and always a smile in your face.

No joke, this actually happened directly on January 1st… I was speechless!!!

I was on Lanzarote for a couple of days for a FreeWheel test week and was flying back yesterday.

It’s nothing new that I divert all kind of things from their intended use and declare them to be technical aids.
In the plane a passenger who sat in the same row did the same.

I willingly pass on interesting and smart ideas.

Apparently he didn’t finish his tasty plane meal.

Thereupon he used to my surprise the airplane oral emission spitting bag* which is quite suitable for technical reasons because of its aluminium coating as doggy bag.

He stored it securely until he left the plane in the bag of the front seat and took it with him then.

Well, enjoy your meal then, I pass on this saving tip without prejudice!!!

*barf bag / air sickness bag

Translator BL

Wheelchair Excursion Mallorca Part III

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

I recommend to each wheeler to ring around 30 minutes before landing for the flight attendant, provided that you can reach the buzzer… and point out that you need assistance at destination to leave the plane.

To be on the safe side I ask additionally that my wheelchair and Minitrac, like officially tagged “Delivery at aircraft” (see older blogpost), should please stay at the plane and not be treated as piece of luggage.

If the wheelchair is lying on the belt for bulky luggage and you are still sitting in the plane the whole thing gets a little annoying.

I also ask for the reason that the pilot can leave some time because he has to wait until I have left the plane.

This can easily take 30 minutes until a kind assistant is coming who might even ask you if you are the “wheelchair“ and able to walk… everything already experienced!!!

During this waiting period you can kill the time by joking with the crew, bumming some nuts and watching the cleaners at work.
Don’t forget to send a crew member down the gangway to look for the wheelchair so that nobody throws it to the baggage cart.

Well, fine…!!!

We were on Mallorca!!!

As usual it took a little longer to leave the plane. I was pleased to hear from a flight attendant that my wheelchair was still standing in front of the plane. Ufff…

I could receive my Minitrac, as “NOT desired” at the baggage claim in the terminal.

A lady from the Spanish handicap service at the airport

sin barreras

with which I already made very good experiences in Tenerife and Lanzarote accompanied me to the baggage belt.

She reminded me a little of the stereotype about the grumpy Spanish waiters…!

The luggage was found quickly, it is anyway always the last on the belt. After the 50th round the sun lotion turns into butter ;-)
The lady wanted to back off already, but there was still something missing, where was my Minitrac!!!

There was no real consent where the Minitrac could be.

After around 20 minutes “Gate 2“ opened and I had won, my Trac was found. Yippie…

Quickly got out of the terminal, the taxi service to the hotel was already waiting, and in record time I was in the hotel in Palma Nova in my room!!!

To be continued

Translator BL

 

Wheelchair Excursion Mallorca Part II

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I was standing in the more or less private bus with my Minitrac in front of the plane on an outside position at Frankfurt Airport.

As often before, I was waiting for the

lifting bus

to beam me up to the plane.

Meanwhile my Minitrac was loaded to the plane.

In the meantime also the other passengers had arrived with busses and were waiting on the other side of the plane which I didn’t know.

The lifting bus didn’t have its best day and acted a little stubbornly. It absolutely didn’t want to lift upwards. After at least 10 minutes I finally arrived at the door of the plane.

Then everything went fast. Two strong paramedics lifted me on the small plane wheelchair which is nothing else than a sack truck in chair format and pushed me almost through the whole plane to my seat.

Then they lifted/threw me as usual across two other seats on to the window seat.
I learnt on the return flight from a flight attendant that as of late due to the anti-discrimination-law you don’t have to necessarily accept a window seat even as wheelchair user.

What a nonsense… the seat neighbour on the window seat in the plane would certainly be happy if I had the middle seat and he would have to proof his sportiness in high and long jump when going to the toilet!!!

In each aircraft there are specially labelled handicap seats with pictogram on the wall. My intelligence wasn’t sufficient yet to understand why the seats are so far at the rear end of the plane.

This time I didn‘t have one of these labelled VIP seats, what a shame!

(photo from return flight.)

After I was finally “stowed away” properly in the plane the other passengers were allowed to board as well.
It was my fault again, we had about 15 minutes delay.

Short before take-off there was as usual an announcement from the cockpit, roughly like this:

Dear passengers,

We are pleased to welcome you on board of the flight from Frankfurt to Palma de Mallorca.

I would like to apologize that you had to wait in the busses.

We have a wheelchair user on board for whom the boarding took a little bit longer!!!

Ehhh…… I have been in a plane quite often, but a, let’s call it personal welcome from the captain was new to me.

I was a little sorry for the two pedestrians who were sitting two rows ahead of me on the two VIP seats with handicap pictogram on the wall, they probably got some nice looks ;-)

I was briefly considering to ask a flight attendant if they had smoked something up front in the cockpit, but I didn’t, I was in a good mood and had a good day.

I plead guilty as aircraft take-off delayer.

Translator BL

 

Wheelchair Excursion Mallorca Part I

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

After I have tested the canary islands for accessibility already several times (see older blogpost), the choice was Mallorca this time.

Although I have never been to “Malle” before the challenge shouldn’t be too big, German is spoken… ok, English and some Spanish are there as well ;-)

The number of accessible accommodations seemed rather limited, if you know any please write a comment.

I selected one of 3 accessible studio apartments in a normal hotel complex in Palma Nova. I had the suspicion to be the only wheelchair user in the complex, this could be funny.

ATTENTION, PRODUCT PLACEMENT OUT OF CONVICTION:

I have booked like several times before through a special travel agency for handicapped www.runa-reisen.de, with whom I always made good experiences. They additionally organized a vertically adjustable bed and a shower commode chair.

Should you need an ambulant nursing service on Mallorca the situation gets a little bit tricky.
In the internet you find immediately around 10 addresses of nursing services. Some of these don’t exist anymore for years, but the website is still online. Great…!!!

I talked to a physician in Germany who has sold his nursing service on Mallorca 10 years ago which is bankrupt in the meantime. The doc is still named in the website credits and doesn’t get his name deleted ;-)

I had some nice conversations with private persons who had involuntarily taken over the contact phone numbers of these websites, but they have given me other possible addresses of nursing services which they knew.
At some stage even I was successful, German nursing service, top service, address on request.

After extensive planning, I “only” wanted to go for 12 days to Mallorca to the sea and not to climb the Kilimanjaro, we finally started.

Without major difficulties I arrived at some stage after transfer, check-in and security check in the handicap service private shuttle on an outside position at Frankfurt Airport in front of the plane to Mallorca!!!

To be continued…

Translator BL

 

Back from Tenerife!

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Unfortunately the Minitrac has not survived the flight undamaged again!

Apart from that I have collected enough material for new stories, more to come shortly.

Technical Aids Test Week Lanzarote part one

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

This time, the compatibility of my wheelchair-tractive “Minitrac”

with my leg orthosis should have been primarily in focus of this technical aids test week.

Well, this masterplan could not be realized hundred percent.

Following the freightage chaos with my Minitrac from Crete back to Frankfurt (see older post) in June I started a new attempt.

This time everything should have been organised better, I wanted to estimate all eventualities, the destination were the Canary Islands, Lanzarote to be precise.

The only plane that flies from Frankfurt to Lanzarote on Sundays already leaves the ground at five o’clock in the morning

And if it is Christmas day, to say December, 25th 2011, this case gets an extra kick.

My medical devices, the wheelchair and the Minitrac (a weight of roundabout 70 Kg) were registered at TUIfly by my travel agency. These medical devices are transported by airlines for free when you register them previously, but the Minitrac was not mentioned on the confirmation of TUIfly.

After an inquiry at the TUIfly Hotline they confirmed the registration, but only the IT-System knows why only half of the medical devices registration arrived at my travel agency in black and white (or: in writing).

Because I live nearby the airport (the sound of the new runway is an insistent proof of this outstanding infrastructure) I considered a pick-up time by the transport service at 02:45 o’clock reasonable. Therefore the giving time of christmas gifts on Decembre 24th had to be a little bit shorter…

Already a couple of months before I fixed this pick-up time with the wheelchair transport service. I repeat: Decembre, 25th 2011 at 02:45 o’clock in the morning. That’s a point…

Three days before departure I wanted to have a confirmation for this appointment again – I enjoy making phone calls often to chase things up.

Nobody could remember the date to pick me up at home for transport to the airport.

The wheelchair taxi that we have in our luxury city Frankfurt is at night on duty by direct call only, which makes sense when you have a flat tyre or are „flat“ in another sense while you are “on tour” in the middle of the night. Unfortunately making a reservation is not possible.

With assistance I can get on and off a normal taxi.

Heavy hearted I decided to postpone my planned Minitrac-leg orthosis-compatibility-test, because I won’t expect any taxi driver to heave my Minitrac in and out of the car boot, sniiif…

I almost wanted to discharge my technical aids test travelling, but then I hoped to get some cognitions about the accessibility on Lanzarote.

I explained to the employee at the taxi office my handicaps in an explicit way, and that I couldn’t manage the height of the seat of an Opel Zafira. With an extra ordered „Stuttgartian estate car“ (Mercedes Benz (translator’s note)) the fifteen-minute-expedition to the airport, leaving my Minitrac at home, should start.

Wonder of wonders, after having a sleep for minimum one and a half hours, the taxi arrived very punctual at 02:40 o’clock. I went down the stairs with my stair lift (sometimes I will introduce that thing too) and was struck dumb at the sight of that stuttgartian car…!!!

My estate car with the star turned out to be a bus named „Vitara“. Seat height – no comment…

Now I know that at taxis busses and estate cars are the same and that you have to specify your wish when you order one. Strange thing…

With push, tear, press and shoveI I managed to get in and out of the bus still alive at the airport.

At the desk of TUIfly it was, like in the whole airport, still quiet at 03:15 o’clock in the morning. Checking the IT my medical devices weren’t registered at all.

Why am I calling hotlines at all??? However, my wheelchair was then declared without further ado.

At the security check my wheelchair was tested for explosives by adhesive strips. My question what will happen when I come back on January 1st and there were residues of gun powder from new year fireworks on my wheelchair, was answered succinctly, that I have to explain that to the German Federal Police then. And I wanted to get back from Lanzarote sometimes even before I got there.

The lifting bus took us to the plane and I was transferred to the airplane-wheelchair.

For me it is a bit of cheek when the aircraft is already fully occupied and you as a wheelchair user, placed on an airplane-wheelchair, are as the last passenger torn by two airport-employees through the corridor of the plane and thrown on the window seat .

As a crowning conclusion that plane had a special painting. I don’t have anything against the Peanuts or the “Maus” (German TV-comic mouse (translator’s note)), but why did it have to be this football club from Hannover?!? For me as a citizen of Frankfurt an absolutely no-go!

I would never have entered a plane with a label of Bayern Munich!

To be continued!!!

Translator Teo

 

I am freezing, let’s get going!!!

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I took the ad hoc decision to follow the established tradition as German retiree and drive around on the canary islands in the coming winter.
Because the journey with the boat would be “going” a little bit too slow (actually it wouldn’t matter, I would have time and could “sit” it out easily) I decided anyhow in favour of flying.

Because I have already gone through a couple of flight miles with a wheelchair and experienced some weird things here are some tips.

Flight trips with wheelchair made easy!

When booking at your travel agency specify already any required medical devices with indication of size and weight, and if required additional assistance at the airport. Medical devices will be transported free of charge anywhere.
It came to my attention that if you need to take along any hard drugs, especially at the entry of the United States, a medical certificate and a lot of time is required.

At the check-in, approach an airport employee and get to the check-in counter with him from the side without any bad conscience, independent of the length of the queue.
Alternatively there is a “handicapped meeting point” in the terminals with an assistance button, after pressing of which a professional wheelchair pusher is coming who will manage everything.

In Frankfurt it is allowed to sit in your own wheelchair until you reach the door of the aircraft. Usually you are the first passenger on the flight. Then you are carried by two “volunteers” in a small plane wheelchair which reminds a bit of a sack truck to your seat, and then the “dwarf tossing” to the window seat begins.

Now it is advisable to pray.
Will your own wheelchair find its way into the cargo bay of the same aircraft?
Will your wheelchair be available and navigable at the destination airport?

In order to avoid that your wheelchair will be treated like ordinary luggage at the destination airport, but hopefully will be brought to the exit of the plane instead there is a label:

Delivery at Aircraft.

This means for the luggage guys at the plane as much as: Please be so kind not to load the object adherent to the label on the luggage cart and leave it here!!!
Keep the labels, don’t throw them away, you might need them for the return flight.

Sometimes there are no more labels available, which might end up extremely annoying when you are still sitting in the plane, and the wheelchair is already lying on the bulky luggage belt in the terminal.

The airport employees around the world are trained so well, they even manage to fold a wheelchair with a rigid-welded frame.
Although I have a foldable wheelchair it has a cross bar to attach an electric wheelchair-tractive type Minitrac. What I have experienced with that, see older blog post.

When the luggage loaders tried to fold my wheelchair it ended with little crashes several times already. Meanwhile I have a reversible, bilingual label on the seat:

Wheelchair not foldable.

It helped the last two times.

I have another label to offer:

Handle with care!

It probably doesn’t help, but brightens the wheelchair up with its red and blue design.

You shouldn’t forget to remind a flight attendant approximately 30 minutes before landing that you are a wheelchair user.

The pilot then hopefully won’t forget the notification at the destination airport, and the probability to leave the aircraft in a reasonable time increases dramatically.

Have fun with your next flight trip!!!

When I think about it, maybe I should better take the boat after all!

Translator BL

Addendum to the fairy tale from June 29th

Monday, July 11th, 2011

对不起,此内容只适用于EnglishDeutsch

Where are the 70.000 workers at Frankfurt Airport???

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Long “fairytale”, but worth reading!!!

On Saturday I landed exceedingly on time on 22:30 from Chania (Crete) in Frankfurt.

I will never understand why some people are applauding after the landing. Nobody was ever applauding for me when I did my job well. Anyway…

The aircraft was parking on a remote stand, I had as usual a nice window seat and watched very relaxed the totally stressed pedestrians leaving the plane.

As wheelchair user you have the privilege of the last passenger after the landing.

The flight captain stated that he had requested the special lifting bus and adequate members of the ground staff already several times, so that I could leave the plane as well.

But nobody came!!!

Parts of the crew and the pilot provided some company to me with which they apparently had some fun. The unwritten law that the captain is the last to leave the ship is still of great importance at Condor.

Eventually someone from ground staff came and seriously asked me if I could walk. He accurately observed that he could not help me on his own. Insight of the day…

While waiting for the lifting bus the luggage was unloaded, so I asked a crew member to check if my wheelchair and wheelchair tractive Minitrac are waiting on the airfield and hopefully are not loaded on the luggage carts.

He said that this would be the case, the things would be standing there. Uff…

The lifting bus finally arrived around 23:10, I left the aircraft with the help of two strong guys and my beloved plane transit wheelchair.

Afterwards they helped me into my own wheelchair which unlike my Minitrac was fortunately still there.
Anyway, so we had to get my Minitrac at the bulky luggage claim.

With the bus we were not brought as usual to the FraCare Service (Service for handicapped at Frankfurt airport), because this area was already closed at this time, but to a different entrance.

There a friendly employee from FraCare was waiting for me.

She said that our luggage would be in the reconstructed building C, and we would have to see how we get there at this time because some of the elevators were switched off.

She used her phone virtually as GPS and lead us confidently like a bushman in the desert through the corridors of the building.

When we finally arrived at the luggage belt we didn’t have to search our luggage for a long time, our 3 bags were rotating around and around.

The whole baggage claim area was almost deserted, there was not even a luggage thief.

My Minitrac

stood with its 65 kg a little disjointed in a plastic box on the bulky luggage belt!

My wife reassembled the Minitrac to begin with.

It is unbelievable, but at 23:44 nobody responsible was there nor could be reached by telephone, who could lift my little box from the luggage belt.

In the meantime even the last passengers were gone who we could have asked for help.

At last my wife has magically lifted my Minitrac from the luggage belt together with two men whom I just call Mister X and Y here. At this point I would like to thank them and the employee of FraCare again!

I left the terminal at 23:55!!!

My pre-ordered wheelchair taxi was kindly waiting in front of the terminal.

I have sent this “fairy tale” in a slightly modified version to Fraport (operating company of Frankfurt Airport) requesting their comments. I will keep you informed.

To my shame I have to admit that I used to work 9 years at the Frankfurt airport before my accident.

Translator BL