“Just over twenty years ago, I sprained my ankle at work, so I had to have it immobilized for a couple of weeks in a cast.
It happened on the first days of December, so it was by the 22nd when the cast went off, and I had an airplane ticket on the 23rd, to come to my parents’ home for Christmas.
Got to the airline counter in crutches and immediately they get me a wheelchair and an agent to take me all the way to the airplane; Mexico City’s airport has very long corridors.
While I was at the counter, there was a big, loud woman over there, chatting with the employees and saying, at last, she was able to go on vacation and using her company passes to fly, so she was arranging her boarding passes and making sure she gets a seat. Guess she was an off-duty flight attendant. My Father worked for several years as one, so I was familiar with the situation.
Long story short, we get to the plane and because I was in a wheelchair, I get to board first. The kind flight attendants on the flight decided I would be more comfortable if seated on a bulkhead seat instead of row 15 that was my assigned seat, as the wheelchair does not fit on the airplane aisle. So I made my way on crutches to seat 1A, with plenty of leg space in front of me, a beverage on my hand, and my crutches are taken away from me and stowed elsewhere.
Along comes the big woman I saw earlier on the counter, laughing and joking with everybody as she makes her way, carry on bags and all, on to my plane. My flight attendant got distracted with something and the big woman comes aboard, looks at me, and with fire in her voice and eyes, orders me to get out of her seat.
I start to explain that it was the senior flight attendant that assigned me that seat, she cuts me mid-phrase and says ‘I don’t care if your mama gave you that seat. That is my seat and you should get out. I work for this airline and I know this is my seat!’
She demands to see my boarding pass.
So, I try to get up, trying not to step on my sprained and tender ankle and ring the attendant call button.
She shouts ‘What do you need an attendant for? Move out!’
All I say is, ‘I need her to get my crutches, she has them.’
By this time, the senior flight attendant is already aware of the situation and is coming over, recognizing the off duty attendant and saying ‘Ah, you’re flying with your discount, so the seat is unassigned, so we gave it to this kind paying customer who needs it for comfort for his injured leg.’
She said this in a kind, almost tender way, reciting it as a sentence one teacher would give a student in order for the student to understand every word. She gestured me to sit down again and ushered away from the non-rev who was still eyeing me as the cause of all evil on earth.
She was seated three rows behind on an empty row and sometime during the flight, I saw the senior attendant go sit with her and have a talk. She went out the plane as soon as the door opened at our destination not even looking at me.
Guess the first day of her vacation was ruined by a young man in crutches.”