Travelling with a disability, do I deserve free upgrades?
An Interesting Debate.
So I cannot walk and use a wheelchair for my mobility, and I’m handy getting around to it. But should I get specialist treatment? For example, should I queue to get into attractions? Considering I want to be treated like anyone else and don’t expect or deserve quick, free entry.
However, here’s what happened on a trip to Paris.
London – Eurostar Terminal
Travelling with a disability is a bonus when it’s a warm October half-term; certain flowers bloom, and some people wear shorts. Sitting in a taxi travelling along a busy A40 to the Eurostar Terminal in London – St Pancras.
At last, my ride pulls up after an early departure from my village, 20-something miles from the station. I don’t remember how busy London can be as many people rush from taxi to ticket office or bus to coffee shop.
After disembarking from the transport and entering the building, we are ushered through security; my family and I get escorted to the Business Lounge. While sitting waiting for our train, we have complimentary tea and cakes.
Following a delay, the tannoy announces the train can be boarded, and we head to the platform. Equally important, the contraption for me to access the train is standing by. Operated by a Eurostar employee, I’m quickly on and seated. It’s nice to be upgraded, free, due to the position of the accessible space.
Paris – I don’t want your pity but a free ticket I’ll take!
Gare du Nord
Due to the rapid speed of the Eurostar e320 fourth-generation interoperable high-speed train, we pull into the Gare du Nord in about 2 hours and 20 minutes from leaving London. With more complimentary food and drinks on the route, we depart from the train satiated and ready to take in the sights of this European capital.
Out & About – as a Tourist
There are queues. Large queues. Hence it feels like everyone has descended on Paris this mild October half-term. Couples. Families and locals. Concluding that there all here to take in the distant views from the Eiffel Tower or the ancient wonders brought back centuries ago from far-off lands stored in museums,
I can wait – At the Tower
Waiting patiently in line to get through security, I gauge about a 40-minute, maybe a tad longer? I catch the eye of the security guard, and they wave me forward. Unfortunately, I don’t speak French, German, or any other language besides bad English. Consequently, I have to be vocally independent and use a loud voice to get through the crowd – wanting to turn around to ensure my party keeps up with me. Therefore, I can feel the daggers in my back from people staring as I pass who have been standing for ages, hanging on for their turn to gain access. Sometimes I wish I could stand.
Later, the same situation arises at the procession to gain access to the lift to take me to the second floor. Disappointingly the top floor is closed today. But the reduced price for me and the two lined up with me is a bonus!
In the same way, similar events happen at the Louvre. Despite our hotel receptionist warning us of having a long wait if we didn’t have prebooked tickets as we left our digs. We have an idea of what will happen. The entrance is via a glass pyramid centred in a magnificent plaza surrounded on three sides by the Palace buildings. There’s a throng of people in separate queues – with or without tickets. . Finally, we join the without tickets queue.
Cripability to the Rescue
Is Cripability a word, or have I made it up?
Nevertheless, my Spinal Cord Injury comes into good use again, straight through security into the underground Hall Napoléon, which serves a vast complex of underground spaces. It’s a maze of halls, corridors and lifts to access the exhibits. No one asked us for any contribution when escorted past the long rows of people waiting with Euro’s in their hands.
Travelling with a disability,
Do I deserve it?
Am I allowed to be able to jump queues?
Do I deserve to be let in free? Oh, and my party of people with me (my family in this case).
Shouldn’t I queue like everyone else?
To conclude. I would be more than happy to wait my turn. I don’t expect special treatment; I want to be treated like anyone else. My spinal cord injury shouldn’t permit me to receive special treatment.
But it is handy!