As I walked into the Tullamarine airport yesterday morning I was humming the song “you can go your own way,” and there were no truer words to fit that moment.
Even though I have gone away to meet up with people, I have taken on this adventure on my own. And I gotta tell you, it’s hard.
Before I go into that, I want to tell you how helpful people have been. From my uncle and aunty driving me to the airport, walking with me to the lounge and making sure I had help getting food.
They left me in the hands of a lovely man who escorted me to the terminal. I then spent the next hour and a bit on a plane to Sydney where I was met by someone with a wheelchair.
My first of two panic attacks during the first 48 hours of my trip occurred after I had been wheeled off the plane and was left at check-in in a corner for people needing special assistance. I was left there for 10 minutes before someone came to assist me. I had an hour until my next flight and I didn’t want to be late. Eventually someone showed up and escorted me to the terminal.
My flight with Qantas from Sydney to Singapore went smoothly. I flew Premium Economy and my seat was very comfortable. They had the oxygen tank ready for me and kept making sure everything was ok. I felt sate and looked after. And I befriended a man named Brian who was going to Frankfurt for a bike riding tour. I was not only safe but entertained too!
My travel agent, FBI Travel had set everything up so well. They had arranged for someone from Qantas to meet me in Singapore and take me through customs and then to the airport hotel, Crowne Plaza Changi. They then waited until I checked in even if it was to take the wheelchair back it made me feel safe.
The next 34 hours consisted of very light sleep, room service, reading a crime novel by the pool and having lunch with an old friend from school. Oh, and lots of people-watching. I was in heaven. Ok, maybe there was a bit of butterflies as well because I couldn’t help but worry about having an escort taking me back to the airport in time for my next flight.
British Airways picked me up from the hotel and took me to check-in and made sure Scarlet was looked after. I then used my charms and made my way into the Business class lounge where I spent the next hour drinking coffee, eating fruit and charming older men. And am I glad I did that! One man helped me make sure that a wheelchair made its way to the lounge and in time to the terminal.
When I got I into my seat I was disappointed that my screen wasn’t working. I managed for five hours as I ate and drifted in and out of sleep. Finally I cracked and I asked to be moved – to Business – and I was! BA doesn’t use external tanks for oxygen but rather the oxygen from the ceiling and so the move was easy. In my new seat I was able to lower my seat, eat better food and watch movies. The flight was long, fifteen hours, but at least I was comfortable and I was able to sleep.
I will not bore you with my stopover in London but I will tell you that I was supported the whole time I was there and there were no reasons to panic.
The flight from London to Tel Aviv was short and smooth and when I landed I was met by ground staff who helped me get through customs, get my bags and finally meet up with my family.
And boy was I happy!
PS for those of you who require oxygen on flights as I do, Qantas provides oxygen tanks that are placed underneath the seat in front and they connect a tube which allows the oxygen to go through your nostrils. This is convenient but the tank does take up space so your feet don’t have much space to move. BA uses the oxygen kept above for emergencies which is better because you do get more room for your feet and once again the tube is for your nostrils so there is nothi in your face. Also, this way it doesn’t cost the passenger extra. El Al on the other hand asks passengers to pay for another seat as they use the old fashioned tank. You then also have to pay for the oxygen.