Flying Alone Long Haul with Parkinsons and Low Vision

Still being edited…Emirates info for disabled passengers

irstly I book early making sure I get an aisle seat near the back and the rare one with the lift-up arm so I can slide in and out. I also have arthritis in my spine so dont have to arcb up and over a fixed chair arm. Last time I gave into pressure from flight crew to give up that special disabled seat and really paid for it in discomfort.

The downside is you get your elbow bumped if you are chubby like me, but I keep getting up to go to the back where I can stretch and walk about (and get coffee and snacks from the galley on Emirates when I cant sleep). You meet interesting people back there, all stIretching or standing. I had a great chat to a cameraman who did one of the outdoor reality programmes. He was not giving away any secrets but I did learn that most of the camera crew do decamp to a comfortable place at night, leaving the celebs to it.

About booking disabled seats

I book special assistance for every flight. It was free but check. Make sure to double-check it is in place before departure and inform cabin crew as soon as possible so they know where to find you.

Special Assistance means you board first and deplane last, making sure cabin crew remember you are expecting special assistance to meet you in case no one is waiting, usually with a whelchair. Last time there were several of us, but I was able to walk alongside a wheelchair passenger to the electric cart that zoomed us past the walking passengers to the special transit lounge where in Dubai they have loungers to stretch out on. Keep your ears open for announcements or your name being called. The supervisor held my ticket and passport, so they soon know who is missing! Ive had some nice chats with other passengees from other flights, also waiting in the disabled lounge, and the toilets arent so busy.

On arrival at destination special assistance meant waiting around, but I went in a wheelchair with the cabin crew straight through customs, and someone picked my bag off the carousel for me and loaded all my stuff on to a trolley before seeing me through the exit to a special pickup lounge where my family could find me (that last part was in Sydney).

Ive flown Qantas, KLM Etihad and Emirates. I liked the Etihad service, and Abu Dhabì airport was àmazing, but the Etuhad economy plane seats were so narrow they pressed on my hips which was really uncomfortable.

I used to get violently sick while flying due to motion sickness until I discovered Blackmores travel calm which is just Ginger in tablet form and it has been my saving.

I also start the flight with a brandy and dry ginger but I only use half of the brandy in the little bottle at a time because it works faster at 30-35,000 feet. I find that relaxes my muscles but that was before I was on Madopar and Sifrol so would probably have to be a little bit more careful these days and just have the dry ginger ale.

My secret weapon is to order the low-fat option meals because they come half an hour before the other meals are distributed. They are quite tasty and have got a few items that I can save if I’m feeling queasy but they then collect my tray before all the others which leaves me free to go to the bathroom before everybody else which is especially good towards landing time so I can wash and change ready for getting off without a huge queue waiting behind me.

Everything seemed to be steamed chicken on one flight but that was a price to pay for less digestiveupset. Perhaps no with everyone asking for a vegetarian, gluten-free gluten-free and lactose free options serving may be different but I did find it was very handy.

Stopovers. Beçause I ravel alone and am blind in one eye and have distorted vision in the other, sightseeing is not the fun it used to be, and I dont sleep much while flying, I just like to get to Manchester Airport as soon as possible without a stopover. Having travelled to Sydney then been driven from Manchester or Heathrow to my destination making it a day and a half of travel, I have never gone for that option, but I do make sure to have a two-hour break between connecting flights to make sure in case my plane is running late. I hope this is not making you too nervous I just like to be a bit cautious while travelling by air. Now ask me about fravelling by train!

I know a lot of Parkies worry about sleep issues when flying. I used to not sleep because I tend to snore and was worried about people hearing so as soon as I started to nod off I would jerk awake again but now everybody wears headsets and are so engrossed in watching the individual monitors or playing video games on them that they don’t hear anything else so I have felt safe now sleep when I need to. I also try to go to sleep on my destination clock time so jet lag is not so bad. Some of you worry about other aspects of sleep problems but it’s just not this is not often you get so deep asleep while flying with everything going on around you.

I keep having to change position due to spine problems and fibromyalgia plus Parkinsons, so having an aisle seat is less dsrupting to those in my row.

Long haul flights are improving all the time, but mine were 21 hours including changing planes at Singaoore, Abu Dhabi or Dubai. Bahrein was an early çhangeover in the 1970’s but you dont seem to hear of that now.

It took ²5 hours to Canada, without a stopover, but I would definitely break that journey. Flight stockings did help for much of the jurney. The free eye mask comes in handy.

I sweàr by my inflatable neck pillow to rest my head on, remembering the cabin pressure inflates it more!

Lots of little drinks of water. Moisturiser – there is often some hidden in the bathroom cabinet. Vicks up my nose to keep away those circulating viruses in the air – works so far, and eye drops, definitely the eye drops because those air vents can be very dehydrating.

Then I just tell myself I am spending the day in my lounge room armchair, get my feet on the footrest and wiggle them, sit back, and smile. Soon be there.

Published by Eunice C English

FormerFreelance journalist. Poet, writer, artist, photographer. Retired and coping with Parkinson's Plus, macular degeneration and other boring stuff but life is still interesting, if a bit of a challenge!

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