When my legs get checked as baggage

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It’s funny how people are so attached to their carry-on bags when they get onto a plane. If they are threatened with, “If that doesn’t fit, then we’re going to have to check it!” they will squeeze and smash their bag into that overhead compartment like they were trying to get their fat kid out of a burning building through the tiniest window.

Every time I fly, my “legs” get checked as baggage and go in the cargo area. I can’t get up from my seat to go to the bathroom, I can’t move about the plane to stretch. I am stuck there for the entire duration of the flight with my most important baggage, my wheelchair, riding down below. I have no idea if it has been taken care of. I have no idea if it will arrive in one piece. Hell, I don’t even know for sure it has been loaded on the plane most of the time. All I know is that if I have to deal with checking my wheelchair, then regular passengers can deal with checking their over-sized carry-on bags.

Now I realize this is a matter of perspective. But I am glad I have the perspective to look at flying as this complete and utter non-important event that only lasts a few hours. Have you ever been at the gate counter when someone panics because they might have to sit a row behind their husband or child or friend for two or three hours? From the way people get angry and loud, you’d think that one of them was going to be put to death.

One time I was flying back from Denver and a small piece of the plastic over my wheel broke off. It really wasn’t a big deal but the gate agent convinced me to stop at the baggage office and file a claim. I got down to the office and there was a short line. Immediately in front of me was a woman pulling a black rolling suitcase. She got to the counter and said, “I’d like to file a claim. My bag is damaged.” The bag looked fine to me and the woman behind the counter needed to come around and be shown the damage, which was a small white scuff about an inch long on the corner of the bag.

The airline employee said that this was not enough damage to file a claim and the woman protested loudly that something inside her bag might be damaged. They went back and forth until the airline employee said, “Okay, then open up your suitcase and if something is damaged, we’ll discuss it.” The woman refused and left, probably because she knew that there was no way her grandma panties and whatever other clothes she had in there could have been damaged.

I rolled up there next and said, “Okay, now I have some actual damage to talk about” and the airline employee rolled her eyes and laughed. We both knew who the crazy one was.

So could you imagine if EVERYONE had to have their “legs” checked as baggage when they flew? If nobody could get up and go to the bathroom, or walk around, or stretch? People would not be happy. Things like luggage scuffs or broken handles would seem minor in comparison. Unfortunately not everyone will gain this perspective. I’m glad I have, however, because it makes flying seem much less stressful and less integral in making or breaking my vacation.

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