Need special assistance? Your SA airline has you sorted

It has been four months since I had hernia surgery.

With strict instructions from my surgeon not to lift anything heavy or participate in any strenuous activities, I worried that a simple trip to the airport would be challenging to handle. On my way to the airport, my mind pondered every part of the flight journey.

“Clinton, how are you going to lift your bag from the car?” I asked aloud while the presenter read the latest bulletin on the radio.

The questions flooded my mind until I parked my car at King Shaka International Airport.

After a long search for someone to assist me, I found a security guard who helped lift my suitcase from the back of my car on to the ground. I tipped him and he was on his way.

I thought I would handle the rest of the journey. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What would have taken a 5-minute walk to the main building took half an hour (thankfully, I arrived two hours before my flight).

As I navigated my way through the car park, lugged my suitcase uphill, I took breaks to catch my breath, trying not to exert myself.

Special assistance

Finding it all overwhelming, I asked the security guard to request someone from the airline to assist me with my luggage. Soon, a petite woman in her airline uniform helped me lug my suitcase to the check-in counter. The staff on the aircraft stowed my laptop bag in the overhead compartment and retrieved it when we landed.

Another staff member retrieved my bag from the baggage carousel at the landing airport. This process is called special assistance.

It helps people with hearing, visual, physical and psychological disabilities, children travelling alone, or the elderly navigate the airport safely with an airline staff.

The passenger is assisted through every process, from check-in, boarding, and luggage retrieval, depending on their individual needs. Passengers can request the free service via the airline.

According to Airports Company South Africa, South Africa subscribes to the United Nations Convention…

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