Cramped seats. Delayed flights. Baggage fees. According to USA Today, 9542 passengers filed complaints against US airlines with the Department of Transportation during the first half of 2015, a 20% increase from a year ago. If you want to travel any distance, you’re willing to put up with inconvenience and discomfort and pay a high price for it, grumbling all the way.
And then an airline goes and does something so great, that you’re willing to look past their many flaws and fall in love again. Like that boyfriend you couldn’t dump back in 1983.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and JetBlue is airing a video on all flights about the Henry Viscardi School. It’s a special place where the mission is to educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities.
Think about your last flight and the obstacles you had to face. Then consider a parent traveling with a child who is immobile without their wheelchair and requires special medical equipment to breathe. To educate their employees, JetBlue arranged for a special day so that students from the school and company personnel could get to know one another. The employees learned ways to better assist disabled passengers and the kids received VIP treatment at the airport before flying from JFK to Boston. Some of them had never traveled by plane.
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Remember your first flight? One young boy who is losing his vision, when asked what he loves about flying, says “Seeing the sky and the clouds.” That’s what I love and I bet you do too.
The next time a passenger whipping their wheelie bag into the overhead bin slugs you in the face, remember airline travel presents certain challenges. I will try very hard to handle them with the dignity, grace, and strength of the students at the Henry Viscardi School.