A Good Hearing Trip

Recently, my sister called to say our mom had fallen ill. I had to kick it into gear as my sister and mom live three thousand miles away. It meant getting on a plane by myself and going to them, they needed my help.

I despise traveling by plane. Anyone who suffers from hearing loss knows how uncomfortable it feels when you are out of your familiar surroundings. All airports are alike, full of noises that you can’t hear. There’s the trip through security and then the incomprehensible boarding announcements at the gate. I didn’t what any part of any of it. How do you cope when you can’t hear?

Yet, my sister needed me, and of course, I wanted to be with my mom. When I went online to book my ticket, I came across a nice surprise, an option that allowed me to let my airline (American Airlines) know that I had trouble hearing. The site did not indicate what kind of help would be available, but just knowing that someone would be there for me made me feel better.

On my travel day, I checked in. The women taking my luggage told me that the people at the gate would help me board the plane. Making it through security wasn’t easy. Yet we all know the routine, take off your shoes, remove electronics and liquids from your carry-on bags, and follow the line. I had no problems winding my way through.

Once at the gate, I introduced myself to the counter personnel and explained my hearing problem. A very nice woman, checked my reservation, saying the airline had received my request for help. She asked me to stand in a line along with a few other people. A few minutes later, we were allowed to board before everyone else. The process was repeated when I made my connecting flight.

I thank the airline for making my trip seamless. I was comforted by the smiles of the airline personnel, how responsive they were, and how they treated me respectfully. I don’t know if other airlines provide the same type of service, but the next time you have to fly, you might want to take a look at your airline’s website to see what is available for hearing help.

I’ve always felt a responsibility to take care of myself and to do what I can in spite of my hearing loss. But sometimes having help makes your meanderings through the hearing world easier, particularly when traveling. So the next time you are taking a vacation or have to fly for business or other personal reasons, take the time to find out if your airline provides hearing help. A few extra steps might make your travels seamless and easy.


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Linda Bilodeau

I’ve grappled with hearing loss since 1978. Through it all, I’ve faced periods of denial, acceptance, curiosity, trust and hope. But more often than not, I’ve felt annoyed, angry and frightened. I’ve encountered despair, loneliness and envy. I’ve experienced panic attacks. I’ve met understanding people, kind souls who helped me a great deal and others who thought I had nothing short of an invisible plague. As a way of coming to terms with my hearing loss, I’ve decided to put my feelings about my disability down on paper. My hope is to better understand myself and perhaps you’ll find a little something in my meanderings that will help you, too.

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