Fear of flying

#15

Only slightly OT: My worst airline experience was some years ago trying to get back to Athens from Crete Island to catch my international flight home. While I was waiting at the airport in the departure concourse, an airline strike broke out over the privatization of Olympic Airways, and the announcements they were making were severely distorted, and on top of that, although they repeated the announcements in English, it was with a heavy, heavy Greek accent. I couldn’t understand a word.

I could see the docks from the departure lounge, and watched with dismay while the last ship sailed for Athens, wondering if I should have taken the boat. (The connection timing in the morning wouldn’t have worked.)

I had to get information on the strike by calling my mom back in the village. Finally I teamed up with another foreigner in the same situation as me – stranded. He was multilingual but spoke very clear English. Plus, he had an inside person in Olympic Airways and relayed the inside story on the strike and whether planes were flying.

I finally made it onto a flight which the selfless and dedicated crew flew even though they weren’t get paid for it. But I wouldn’t have found out about it except for that friend I made in the concourse.

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#16

Thank you all for your responses. I am definitely in good company here on this forum. And haggis’s experience makes my worst nightmare look like a pleasant dream.

You are all right in that most information is displayed, and individual help from other passengers, and employees both, is at hand.

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#17

I don’t think I’ll have much new to add:

Having been through a couple of airports in foreign countries where I don’t speak the language, I still managed to find my way around. Arrive a few minutes early, relax, get your bearings, then start looking around. Signs are everywhere, there are almost always some uniformed airline personnel in sight. Ask for help finding whatever you need. Getting through security will always be a pain, for anyone. Once you get to the gate, go up front to the gate agent and let him or her know that you have trouble understanding the boarding announcements and you’d like someone to flag you down when they get ready so you can be prepared. As busy as gate agents get, they do seem to really appreciate a kind word and the opportunity to really help someone vs being yelled at or complained to about something outside their control.

I’m just going to toss this out there. but if all those sounds are causing extra stress or anxiety, maybe remove your aids? You can do this without them.

On board the aircraft there’s another set of problems. There are exit row seats you probably shouldn’t take if you can’t hear or understand spoken instructions. Also, the flight crew is required to give a safety briefing. Even though most people ignore it, if you do think it’s something important enough to hear, then you need to mention something to a flight attendant when you board. They’ll help out, and then if there is an announcement they’ll come by and let you know what was said, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything important.

Relax, it will all be OK.

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#18

Another reassuring voice of reason. Thank you for your response.

Again it impresses me what a kind and helpful group of people there are here. Thank you all.

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#19

Okay, now your post makes sense.

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#20

I flew a few months ago and it was impossible for me to hear the announcements in the airport. My recommendation is learn everything yourself and don’t depend on announcements. Read your tickets ahead of time (day of flight would be fine) and know your flight number and gate. Get familiar with the airport layout so you know where you are going. Get completely self-sufficient, then it will take that stress off of you.

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#21

Good advice. Thank you.

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#22

Make sure you go early & get a seat where you can see the boarding gate. There will be a status board behind the desk that tells you information like how long until boarding, what group is boarding, etc. Assuming you have a smart phone, the airlines all have apps. Download them in advance while you’re home on your wifi. Get your frequent flier account set up & make sure you can log in. You can look at the app to see your gate, boarding, departure, luggage status, etc. While you’re at it you can check TSA wait times in their app & also check the apps for the airports at which you’ll be traveling. Even w/HAs I can’t understand a lot of the loudspeaker announcements but between the apps & watching the board at the gate you’ll be fine.

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#23

Sometimes if my wife is flying without me, she tells them she needs wheelchair assistance. This way, the person wheeling her through the airport gets her through TSA all the way onto the aircraft. They will meet her at her destination also to get her off the plane through baggage and her ride. Don’t forget to tip also, they expect it and you should too!

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#24

I can completely understand that. Some airlines have an app, this makes it really simple for some elements of the communication. I flew with Flybe recently. You can check in easily & put boarding pass in wallet (iPhone). Flybe texted me when the flight was delayed by 15 minutes. Myself & my son have the Widex 440 Evokes. The f2s stream direct to iPhone. Our loss goes up to about 85db so it’s not the same, but the hearing aids have incredible speech intelligence & I now hear nearly all public announcement speech. My sons upgrade took him from 70% speech in noise to 92%. They have 11 sound classes & move seamlessly between them to give best results in all scenarios. An experienced fitter is necessary to achieve the right set up, they have changed my life though. Good luck.

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#25

Again, thank you all for your responses. A lot of good input here.

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#26

When l am at airport waiting for a plane, l tell the gate agent that l am deaf and can’t hear the PA so they let in board the plane with any persons using their wheelchairs.

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#27

The single most helpful assist for me is to request wheelchair service. The speed with which the accompanying attendant whisks you around the airport gives you a much larger margin for overcoming any errors or delay in hearing, understanding and reacting to human, audible, and visual announcements and instructions. If you place the request for wheelchair service when you purchase your tickets, the airlines are very accommodating. But if you forget to make the request at time of purchase, the airlines still make every effort to service the request at any of the various steps along the way.

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#28

Make sure to follow up with us on how things go. The rest of us might learn something.

Boarding generally begins 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time, so that’s about the time you’ll need to start paying closer attention.

Since this is a direct flight, there are a lot fewer things that can go wrong. I was trying to think of a “worst case” where not being able to clearly hear announcements would cause problems. In my experience there have been a few.

Gate area:

Gate changes - its possible your flight will be moved to a different gate for some reason. You might have a nice seat where you can see the boarding info, then an announcement is made that your flight will depart from a different gate. You’ll have to grab your stuff and shuffle off to another location.

Gate checking - some aircraft don’t have large overhead bins and there isn’t enough room for all the carry on luggage that people tend to bring. They’ll have an announcement about gate checking. You’ll get a specific tag you can put on your carry on, they’ll take it and load it in the hold. After you arrive they’ll pull it out for you and you can grab it as soon as you get off the plane.

Delays - generally posted on the information boards, but also there’s an associated announcement.

Standby - if you are on a standby list, your name might be called over the PA system.

Baggage claim - after you get off the plane there might be an announcement telling you where to find your bags.

In flight:

Gate changes or other flight info - there can be announcements over the intercom that are important if you are transferring to another flight. One time I was on a flight that had been delayed, then we ran into more headwind than expected. The result was we were going to be much later at the next airport than anyone planned. An announcement was made so that passengers would know what gate they needed next when they got off the plane. “If you are transferring to xxxx city on flight zzzz, you’ll be at gate 123.” I leaned over to the closest flight attendant and asked, “What about my flight? It left 10 minutes ago?” There will be an agent waiting when you get off that will be able to help.

Enjoy the trip!

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#29

Prior to my hearing loss about 35 years ago I loved flying… but nowadays I avoid flying like the plague, tis just way too much anxiety for me to endure, tis all to do with cabin pressure, some aircraft are fine but others will knock for six… if it’s the wrong type of plane, it is 100% like my meniers disease was at its hight, severe hearing distortion, severe balance problems and extreme nausea and this will last for up to 4 days or so after we have landed… I only fly if it is unavoidable! Cheers Kev

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#30

One thing I have discovered about flying since starting with hearing aids is the best way to control airplane noise. I just mute my hearing aids and leave them in my ear. Nobody hassles me for wearing headphones, and my closed fittings act like earplugs and really kills the noise. I find it better than trying to listen to music. If I need to talk to someone, I just unmute them. Only takes a few seconds.

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#31

I have worn ITE hearing aids, and when flying I also wear Bose noise canceling headphones. I mute my hearing aids and use the Bose Hearphones for the extra noise reduction.

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#32

When booking your ticket online, they have a little box that says “do you need assistance” tick that box! If you book at a travel agent tell them you need assistance. This way you will be taken right to the departure gate. Tell the people st that gate your deaf, you can’t hear announcements and you will board with the disabled people.

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#33

I can’t believe your response in a forum about hearing when the hearing, or not being able to, is obviously why it is posted here! Afraid of not hearing announcements, of missing the gate number because you can’t hear or understand the gobbldegook in a noisy environment . I can definitely relate. And YES, it can be scary, especially to someone who is hearing impaired and doesn’t fly often.

I would have no idea of what to say to comfort Shootingstar, but I wouldn’t get on her case for posting this here. But perhaps to let the person at the boarding gate know that you are hearing impaired and concerned about hearing announcements. I’m sure they would go out of their way to assist you.

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#34

When you book your flight tell them you need assistance. Even online you can choose this. Not all experiences are the same, but I’ve had some very positive experiences with some airlines in that they make sure I hear all the announcements, make sure I am up to date with gate information, make sure I’m seated OK and if I have any other questions, etc. Connections are the worst part.

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