￼Isn’t it funny that my first article on my last three overseas trips have been about in-flight entertainment and, more particularly, audio described movies on that in-flight entertainment – or the lack thereof.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, audio description is a way that blind and visually impaired people can follow the action taking place onscreen. As the name suggests, the action is described in words along with the usual soundtrack of the movie. Sure, there are movies where the plot is driven by dialogue and we can follow more of what’s going on. But many movies – thrillers, action, horror, and cartoons, for example –are far more visual and it’s hard to follow what’s happening without help.
Admittedly I’m a fairly new convert to audio described movies but it’s amazing how quickly I’ve come to expect them to be part of the in-flight entertainment on a long distance flight. So I was distressed when I found no audio described movies on the 11 hour KLM flight from Cape Town to Amsterdam.
Maybe I’d misled myself into thinking all airlines had audio described movies on international flights simply because Emirates Airlines does. Granted, we haven’t used other airlines in a while for overseas travel. I’d love to know what other airlines also include movies that take the needs of their disabled passengers into consideration – please let me know if you’ve experienced any that do.
At least I had my trusty iPhone and book reader with me on my flight so I had plenty to keep me entertained. Still, I’d have liked to have the ability to choose whether or not to watch an accessible movie…
“Mr and Mrs Strachan, you’ve been upgraded to business class. I hope you enjoy your flight!”
Those have to be amongst the most welcome words a traveller can hear, especially when having just spent 9 hours travelling from Cape Town to Dubai. The thought of spending the next 6 hours in transit to Warsaw suddenly seemed a lot less exhausting.
And believe me, the answer is yes, business class is all it’s cracked up to be – the food was great, the service attentive but not invasive, and the additional seat room was amazing, especially for Craig, who is 6ft2.
But there were a couple of things that I‘ll need to figure out if traveling business class becomes a more regular occurrence for us.
Ironically, one of the positives of business class was something of a challenge to me as a blind passenger. In economy, provided we’re sitting within a few rows of the bathrooms, I can usually make my way there on my own, only needing to bother Craig if he’s sitting in the aisle seat. I simply move my hand from one seat to the next to support me as I walk down the aisle. This isn’t possible in business class – the seats are spread much further apart to allow space for each seat to convert into a bed. That means I can’t reach from one seat to the next.
Another aspect of business class travel that is usually a positive is the increased amount of privacy that the seat design allows each traveller. There is more space between the seats… Okay, there is space between the armrest of the seat on the left and the armrest of the seat on the right, unlike in economy where the armrest of the seat on the left IS the armrest of the seat on the right. On our Emirates flight the privacy was enhanced by the tablet computers that were attached to the armrests between Craig’s seat and mine – one for each of us.
And that made it hard for me to attract Craig’s attention if I wanted to ask him a question or needed his help. And yes, I did figure out how to detach the tablet… but then what? Where could I put it?
I’m not saying either of these detracted from the pleasure of travelling business class, or that either of them would make me hesitate if offered the opportunity of doing so again. It simply means I need to find different ways to overcome those challenges.
Let’s hope I’m given the opportunity to do so soon…