I’m writing this from the Goose Island Brewery bar on the C concourse at my “favorite” airport, Chicago O’Hare. We spent the night last night at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport, which is a place we’re getting way too familiar with. We even have our own room there — yes, with more than 1,000 rooms, this hotel only has ONE handicap-accessible room. So much for the “enlightened” Europeans, who we were getting pretty irritated with by the end of this trip. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s no wonder that you don’t see many disabled people in the country. Frankly, if how visitors are treated is any indication, the locals who need help with accessibility are out of luck.
The flight from Frankfurt to Chicago was delayed by an hour due to fog. Once we took off from Frankfurt, we saw that the fog bank was very localized to just the vicinity of the airport. The flight was wonderful. We were in one of the new United First Suites, which had a 17″ screen personal monitor, noise-reducing headphones, and a full lie-down bed. Barb and I both watched “Super 8” and “127 Hours” (two really good films, by the way), and then Barb watched some additional TV shows while I read. The food was excellent on the flight — much better than what we experienced on our Denver to London flight last year.
Thanks to that one-hour delay, we were unable to make our connection in Chicago and had to get a flight that left five hours later. Sigh. As usual, we were also irritated by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement staff. When we went from country to country in Europe — which, granted, is like going from state to state in the U.S., we were basically waved through, even though we are U.S. citizens. Coming back to our own country, we a) had to fill out a form, b) go through passport control, c) collect our bags, d) go through customs and declare anything we’d purchased, e) re-check our bags so they could continue on their merry way back to Denver.
The customs area at O’Hare is huge, and I rolled Barb in her travel wheelchair into the area. There were two major signs: one for U.S. citizens and registered foreign nationals, and the other for those carrying passports of other nations. Seeing no special accessible line, we got into the “regular” line. Once we had spent a few minutes in the line, a uniformed young lady in the employ of I.C.E. informed us that we “could have gone to the wheelchair line” and took down the temporary barrier. I happened to mention that it would be nice if they actually had a sign pointing out where the wheelchair line was, and the young lady responded by telling me that “I’m retracting my offer” and putting the barrier back up with an evil grin. I swear, the I.C.E. must hire some real jerks.
Anyway, we made it back to Denver a bit later than expected after an uneventful flight. I honestly despise travel days like this — they seem to last forever, and if there are delays it’s even worse. Although this was a wonderful trip, we could both do without the travel days. If someone can invent a painless, bureaucracy-free way of traveling, they’ll have my undying gratitude.
This will be our last trip until at least May of next year. Barb’s undergoing knee replacement surgery on October 19th, which will hopefully make traveling a bit easier for the two of us.