Okay, okay, I know a cute young guide dog is going to attract attention, but I seriously didn’t realize the difference there would be between traveling on a plane with Fiji and traveling without her, especially when it comes to the onboard safety briefing.
Usually when Fiji’s with me she attracts a lot of attention from the flight crew and we always receive a very thorough safety briefing before take-off. Usually one of the cabin attendants shows me how to navigate my way round the seat and overhead controls, tells me where the nearest emergency exits are, and where the bathrooms are.
However, I had a totally different experience on my recent trip to Ghana without Fiji.
On our first flight, from Cape Town to Johannesburg, the cabin crew only noticed I was blind when distributing the meal. I received a perfunctory safety briefing afterwards – just about the time we began our descent. On the second stage, between Johannesburg and Ghana, I had to make do with the general safety video and figure it out from there.
Okay, I did receive a full briefing from the cabin crew on the flight from Accra to Johannesburg, so maybe one out of four isn’t too bad.
I waited to see what would happen on our final flight back to Cape Town. When we arrived at the plane the cabin steward insisted on accompanying me to my seat himself, rather than letting my friend who was with me do so. He settled me in my assigned seat… and forgot about me the rest of the flight.
So, my question is this –is someone traveling with a white mobility cane simply less visible than someone with a guide dog? Is it perhaps that the crews figure that only someone with a guide dog requires a safety briefing? Or is it just that the guide dogs are so cute that the safety briefing is no more than an excuse to come over and pat the dog?
Regardless, the point remains that I’m still there – whether I’m traveling with Fiji or with my mobility cane… so my need for a safety briefing doesn’t change!
Still, if I were part of a cabin crew I’d probably also want to go and greet the cute dog!