Monday, 6 May 2013

Travel Challenges

Well, my trip did not start of auspiciously. If anything it started with a couple of major letdowns. On the other hand, I am in Cuba and about to start a week of relaxation combined with adventure. How can that be bad?

Yesterday Ricky dropped me off at the airport and did his usual yeoman's job of ensuring I arrived at the gate, luggage and wheelchair at the ready. The airline, Sunwing, checked me in and escorted me to the gate. So far so good. The first real indication of how they make money on these trips came when I boarded the plane. In order to maximize passenger loads, they squeeze in every row of seats possible. There was sufficient legroom for a small child.

The flight crew took one look at me and my legs, dead as they are, and said "this won't do". They couldn't move me to another row as many people pre-purchased seats with better legroom. Now I know why, and now I know how Sunwing makes a few extra dollars. So what the crew did was relocate the other two people in my row to an empty row at the back of the plane. This allowed me to swing my legs sideways and, more importantly, to stretch them during the flight.

The flight itself was uneventful; arrival in Varadero no so much. When I boarded the plane, the gate crew took my wheelchair and put it in luggage. When I deplaned the wheelchair, which went in the plane last, came out of the luggage last. How does that happen? Maybe it was a good thing since the gate crew took about 30 minutes to arrive at the plane with an airport wheelchair. But we made it out, finally.

Then it got even more interesting. Despite several emails and messages back and forth, the good folks at Sunwing had forgotten to mention to their Varadero associate that I was in a wheelchair; his report simply said I might need "assistance". So when he presented me to the bus, with its four steep and deep stairs, we were both in trouble. I looked at him; he looked at me; we discussed, and discussed, and discussed. In the end I took a cab to my hotel. As the agent said, "it is the only way."

When I arrived at the hotel, Sunwing had taken note of my challenges and decided that I really did not need the oceanview room I had booked and paid extra for. Instead they put me in one of the two small rooms with handicap rails in the bathroom. The bathroom is accessible; the rest of the room is almost impossible.

Fortunately I talked with the hotel manager this morning and she was very understanding. Noboby can do anything about the $40 cab ride; that's mine. On the other hand the hotel, which by now has sold out every ocean view room, has provided me with a suite that sort of overlooks the ocean.

The site itself is lovely; all palm trees and plants and flowers. I didn't sleep much last night having finally gotten into my room at around 4:00 AM EST. So I am a bit tired today, too tired to go into much more detail. Suffice it to say that I am starting to relax. I have a nice room, I found the bar, and I am about to go exploring.

I'll be alright, won't I?

1 comment:

  1. Of course you will Richard. You had better be!!!! And have a fun relaxing time. Glad you got your accommodations fixed to your liking.