On a Lufthansa flight between New York, JFK and Frankfurt Airport, the crew aboard the Lufthansa jet went the extra mile to make sure that a deaf passenger felt included.
Stockholm based writer/producer, Antonia Rodrigues da Silva was travelling to Germany from New York last month and decided to take to social media to thank the Lufthansa crew for making her feel so welcome.
Travelling is difficult for the hearing impaired
Being hard of hearing is particularly difficult when flying and involves writing questions and answers down on paper when having to communicate with people who don’t know sign language.
Fortunately for Antonia, Lufthansa’s crew went beyond the call of duty to make sure that she had all the information about the flight and the service onboard the plane.
Knowing that Antonia would have difficulty in understanding in-flight messages, the crew took the time to write and illustrate details of the transatlantic flight on napkins.
On her Instagram account, Antonia posted photos of the napkins and even made a short video to express her feelings, saying: “I want to say thank you to Jan, Len, and Anna for making my flight more comfortable and making me feel included. All those small things matter.”
Video: via @antoniardasilva on Instagram
She also posted on Facebook as well, writing: “I want to say thank you for making my flight more comfortable and making me feel included … Like knowing that WiFi doesn’t work, what are we are going to eat or if we will arrive on time … All those small things matter”.
Unless you are hearing impaired, it is almost impossible to imagine what flying is like when you are unable to hear airport announcements.
Deaf couple threaten to sue Delta
Even trying to communicate with the check-in agent and the staff at the gate can be challenging. This was made clear last January when a deaf couple accused a Delta of discrimination when a boarding agent refused to communicate with them in writing.
When they bought their tickets they were told that they would be able to sit next to each other on the Detroit to Los Angeles flight despite the tickets being purchased separately.
When they got to the gate they tried to communicate with the agent using an iPhone but according to the story in the Washington Post, the agent did not attempt to write anything down and just kept on talking.
After repeatedly asking the agent to write what she was saying so the deaf couple could understand, the agent finally did so, writing: “the flight is full and you cannot sit together.”
After that, she supposedly crumpled the paper up and threw it in the rubbish bin, before either of the deaf couple had the chance to respond. When one of the pair went to retrieve the paper from the bin, other airline gate members called the police.
Now having been denied access to the flight, they stayed overnight in a hotel and travelled home on a different airline the following day.
Upset by the entire incident, The Post reports, that Socorro Garcia and Melissa Yingst have threatened to sue Delta over their treatment. The Post quoted one of the two as saying:” Delta should train their staff how to communicate with deaf customers”.
While initially denying wrongdoing Delta agreed to reimburse the couple for their flights and pay for the cost of the hotel.
Airline staff training needs to be better
Dealing with hearing impaired customers is a reality airlines face every day. Rather than make things more difficult, they should take a look at Lufthansa’s crew on Antonia’s flight.
Training staff basic sign language or having at least one person on the cabin crew who can sign would be good. Failing that, look how just writing down a few things on a napkin can go such a long way in making a deaf person’s day more pleasant.