Delta airlines? Americas number one airline? Unless your diabetic,vegan, a disabled person with dietary needs a person above average weight(60%of adult Americans) who need to be pushed down a airplane aisle in a chair or taken to the bathroom mid flight or expect the average steward to know the difference between vegan or vegetarian or expect them to know paraplegics can’t stand or that epileptics seizing are not deliberately kicking the person in front of them. Apart from that they’re peachy just Peachy.
Wow did that sound judgmental? Well indulge me for a hundred words or five and you’ll probably agree,
Ella and I booked our tickets to and from Australia through Delta airlines disabled travel services office.
I have written about this office before, in theory they exist to to arrange travel for all disabled, elderly, in-firmed or pregnant travelers or those with special dietary requirements or those that need oxygen or the accompaniment of a service animal or a combination of any or all of the above to make life on the road easier at least that is the theory.
Now 2 months before we traveled we contacted the miracle a fore mentioned office, we went back and forth a dozen times ,tried every combination of airlines until we found two that they even agreed worked and we booked the domestic airline to and from New York and Los Angeles with Delta and virgin Australia international for the international leg both ways and virgin Australia domestic from Sydney to Adelaide and return. The virgin/delta combo is what they call a sister airline relationship delta also has them with KLM Luthhansa and air france.
The reason for the international leg on virgin is I am vegan for medical reasons and since we have been together Ella lives by the same diet so we can keep a safe kitchen that way I can never get sick by having dangerous foods in the house and virgin international prides itself on a large menu of specialist diets for the medically impaired in that area.
We knew the short delta flight from NYC to LA didn’t have vegan but they allow you to bring on our own vegan food, and we did.
The trip to Australia on virgin was amazing it was like a five star restaurant/hotel with wings.
Delta from NYC to los angeles was so poor they refused to push me down the aisle to my seat and I was forced to crawl to my seat and this was watched and approved of by the airline service staff and when I needed the same chair to go to the toilet I was told I was no more special than all the other (walking and able to stand) passengers so I had to hold it at best and wait till they got to me ?
We got to Los Angeles and we had a 6 hour layover so we were told by delta if we bought a $90 one month membership to the sky lounge as a disabled person we would have comfort at all airports as they told me and Ella there was a sky lounge at every airport, so along with their sister airlines we would be covered anywhere in the world.
Well when we arrived at the sky lounge after a couple of hours we asked the front desk to “check our arrival times so we would know how much time we had” he heard “cancel every international booking and less than an hour before flying leave us without flights and Ella without a visa for Australia?”
So after, as I explained in a previous story a virgin employee Sean saved the day we were back on virgin and off to Australia all was well ? Or so we thought.
So we flew with virgin and it was a dream not a nightmare, the food was great the service was amazing they helped me in the aisle chair a half dozen times to the bathroom and even got me the eternal coffee junkie great coffee from first class.
We arrived at Sydney airport a great tall cool ex pro Aussie rules footballer escorted us all through customs, security and all the way through express walkways to a cross terminal bus. He then radioed ahead to hold the plane and we boarded virgins domestic arm for the final leg to Adelaide.
That is when the great service ended as we boarded we were told “no aisle chair on any virgin Australia domestic flights”, when I inquired what I was to do half way down the plane if the toilet was needed the reply came”you’re an adult you’ll have to hold it, you can can’t you?”
When I asked why they were not in compliance with international care for the disabled on airlines regulations they replied “we don’t get your kind very often does it really matter?”
So we pay the same as every able bodied passenger yet we are told it if we can’t hold it shit in your seat!
So the mission statement for virgin australias care for disabled passengers is, sit squeeze and hold or sit and shit and squelch!
We stayed in Adelaide for 9 days and you have all read that story, then we flew back to Sydney again on virgin and squeezed and sat. We had three days in Sydney at the hotel de- hell then we arrived at the airport three hours before flight time as told by virgin the six times we confirmed our bookings before we flew. We rolled to the virgin special services desk only to be told that the booking made through the delta special services offices had disappeared and couldn’t be found on virgins computer, so we were sent back to delta who arranged it, were a woman with an attitude only more difficult to understand than her name! called me a liar, telling us their own special services department never booked us on virgin even though I could quote the name of every person I spoke to and was proven right by the computer notes in front of them. Then we were told there was no delta lounge and they would not let us into a sister airlines even though again the statement proving they said that they would was also on the computer in front of them.
So after an hour of being called a liar they did find our booking, it was made by them and it was canceled by someone in their company even though their own disability experts knew that re booking us on delta was booking someone with special dietary requirements on an airline who refuses to meet those dietary needs? So the supervisor who first called us liars on every count then when she found we were not made no apology finally only minutes before flight found vegan food and promised they had vegan for all snacks and all meals for the entire 14 hours or so she told us a dozen times before we got on board.
Once we were on board we were again abused and yelled at and told we must be wrong noone at delta would have screwed up so bad.
At one point “teddy reeves” head of steward services on the delta flight leaned over threateningly in my face loudly repeating”are you willing to stay on this flight and behave?”four times when we told him there should be vegan meals on board he told us there was one could we just eat “normally for the rest?” for the rest of the flight every meal service they attempted to serve normal food and even though Mr reeves eventually found every meal we were told in loud abusive terms we were wrong delta didn’t “pander” to fad dietary styles and only after every person was told to go argue with reeves we would eventually get the meals then the mid flight snack was delivered it was a bread role with half inch thick butter on a supposedly vegan roll when we pointed it out we were told “just try it it will probably be okay…probably” imagine telling a person allergic to peanuts “just munch a handful, anaphalactic shock is only a theory”
when we refused to play culinary Russian roulette we were muttered at under her breath “you’re just being a pain”( last time I bit into a sandwich which was vegan but had been cut by a knife which cut a chicken sandwich and had only smears from a chicken breast no actual meat I ended up in the ER on a drip)
Because of delta we were forced to survive on two bowls of fruit 3 inches square containing 6 black grapes and two 1 inch slices of melon and 1 apple. And one very small bowl (about three teaspoons of rice and chickpeas the only try at vegan food in 14 hours) we arrived late at LAX and at customs with only 25 minutes to make our plane change I was because I am both transgender and wheelchair using was selected as the “1in a 1,000passengers” that US customs segregate for extra scrutiny and we arrived at our new york connection 15 minutes late they only held the plane because I screamed “I am so suing delta for abuse of the disabled” and suddenly a delta airport manager appeared and hurried us through customs, TSA and the airport in great haste while she constantly apologized and assured me they never meant any harm and telling me she was horrified at my “alleged “ treatment we got on the plane and deltas only saving grace was a cute middle aged gay guy who thought my treatment was “atrocious” so he gave us free internet and a bloody Mary, saved by a stereotype a gay male air steward!” but alas too little too late delta is part of the Greek alphabet ?what a coincidence because as this story displays decency honesty intelligence and professionalism is all Greek to delta!