Airport nightmares II - Berlin Tegel - check-in for disabled people
I do not actively collect travel experiences. They just happen. So please allow me to refer to 'airport Berlin Tegel' as 'Errorport Berlin Tegel' or in German 'Fluchhafen Berlin Tegel' (curse port).
On May 31st 2009 we tried to board AB8198 Air Berlin from Errorport Berlin Tegel (BERLIN/TXL) to Zürich (ZURICH). We then faced gate A01 where the security check is set up almost fully transparently so waiting passengers are visibly and audibly well entertained by watching disabled people struggle through the security ordeal.
The experience was indeed a very German one, however somewhat historical, when one is shown to the public as disabled person and when the public decides to stand and stare. Empathy in these moments is entirely absent in both security and gawkers (that is, passengers), and if the following lines miss empathy too, please regard this as a sharp retribution, as revenge, as a tit-for-tat which some of you probably owe me.
Now, Germany is not just paradise - no! Germany is the country where racial discrimination is an ubiquitous experience in that all of Germany was declared a "No Go Zone" by some extremists. And disabled people still go through undiluted hell - daily - according to a recent well argued article. So staring and discrimination are what Germans are really good at. Conversely a disabled person is good as long as they make up for it by, say, training for the Paralympics. Still, this looks like they made great progress compared to just some decades ago, so maybe we should be grateful.
Germans are the European Champions in classifying people. They systematically deny disabled people a decent and human treatment they so very much claim for themselves and so disabled people are classified lower than ordinary people. Even though their constitution is alleged to state "nobody is to be disadvantaged due to disability" since 1994, we are painfully reminded that that is only 15 years now (2009).
You should also realize that the German mindset, the cultural make, the way these people think, make them file these air traffic rules against (would you argue using the word "for" here, yes?) disabled people not under the section "people" - no, the rules against disabled people are listed not just even under "goods", but under "hazardous goods" - German term being "Gefahrgut".
Gefahrgut. That is the category disabled people are dealt with in air traffic. Let this sink in. Germany, 2009.
Regulations for making sure that a fast recovery of disabled people is impeded as much as possible due to the apparent fact that lives of non-disabled people are worth more (JAR-OPS 1.260 Carriage of Persons with Reduced Mobility):
So we are "Gefahrgut" in the German minds, these minds that are so adept at classifying, discerning and discriminating.
The times of assuming naivety are long gone though. Germans stare and like to stare, point blank. Now I don't think we should leave that situation at the Tegel Errorport there and in the past - I think we should all be able to continue to stare, and even more, stare back.
Here is a photo that shows how transparent the whole Berlin Tegel Errorport security is:
There was not much to stare at, just a colleague and myself, who just returned from a somewhat exhausting four day sports event:
But look at their faces! They even turned around to watch my colleague and her wheelchair getting searched. I shot that photo out of my wrist using my cell phone while they (see 'em arrows) could not get their eyes off us:
There were other people that voiced their concerns about the way Errorport Berlin Tegel is a discriminating experience for disabled people:
Berlin Tegel Errorport review by Richard Walsh - 10 June 2006 - Coming back home through Tegel to London last Friday morning we were appalled by the lack of awareness and consideration for the problems of the disabled/handicapped traveller. We also found the lack of comfort and facilities once we had been through departure gates and security very disappointing. Specifically, disabled people who turn up on time for a two hour check-in really do not appreciate having to stand for nearly an hour before being able to check in with no opportunity available to sit down. Even once we had checked in, we were unable to go directly to the departure lounge because another flight had to be cleared out first. Then, when we got to the departure lounge we were disconcerted to find that there was no direct access to airline lounges ( we were travelling business class) where we could have relaxed. In short, we found these facilities would have been fine for a short- haul local airport but quite inadequate for a major international destination.
Am Berliner Fluchhafen Tegel diskriminiert - 13.01.2006 - 10:07 - Berlin (kobinet) Martin Ladstätter wurde am Berliner Flughafen Tegel genötigt, sich aus "Sicherheitsgründen" von seinem Faltrollstuhl in einen Flughafenrollstuhl umzusetzen. Die für ihn extrem aufwendige und schmerzhafte Prozedur war diskriminierend. Der Wiener schaltete deshalb Rechtsanwalt Dr. Oliver Tolmein ein. Es sollen "rechtliche Schritte geprüft" werden, damit sich "dieser Unsinn" in Zukunft nicht wiederholt. Der Vorfall ereignete sich vor dem Flug AB 8762 am 10. Dezember 2005, mit dem der kobinet-Redakteur nach seiner Teilnahme an der Verleihung des BIENE-Awards für die besten barrierefreie Webseiten im deutschsprachigen Raum wieder nach Wien zurückkehren wollte. Sein Faltrollstuhl wurde ihm genommen, was ihm selbst bei einer Flugreise in den USA nicht passiert ist. "Sachlich gerechtfertigt dürfte es auch nicht sein, weil es andere Methoden gibt, Faltrollstühle zu überprüfen bis hin zur Suche nach verstecktem Sprengstoff", sagte Ladstätter heute dem Berliner kobinet-Korrespondenten. Die Berliner Flughafen-Gesellschaft hält in einem Schreiben ihres Beschwerdemanagements eine Röntgenkontrolle aller an Bord eines Flugzeuges mitzuführenden Gegenstände unter Berufung auf "Luftsicherheitsbestimmungen" weiterhin für erforderlich. Das Umsetzen von behinderten Passagieren in einen Standardrollstuhl können ihnen nicht erspart werden. Allerdings bestehe nach Aussagen des Bundesgrenzschutzes noch die Möglichkeit, "im Einzelfall direkt vor Ort durch das Sicherheitspersonal anders entscheiden zu können". Für Ladstätter ist diese Antwort nicht befriedigend. In Kenntnis der österreichischen Gleichstellungsgesetzgebung erwartet er auch vom Benachteiligungsverbot im deutschen Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz, dass diskriminierende Behandlung ausgeschlossen bleibt. Der Flughafen Köln-Bonn, der früher eine ähnliche Praxis ausübte, lässt nach Protesten behinderter Fluggäste Reisende im Rollstuhl ohne Umsetzen durch die Sicherheitskontrolle. Artikel 1 der gerade beschlossenen Verordnung des Europäischen Parlaments über die Rechte von Flugreisenden eingeschränkter Mobilität sieht deren unbehinderte Gleichstellung vor: "Der Binnenmarkt für Luftverkehrsdienste sollte den Bürgern im Allgemeinen zugute kommen. Daher sollten behinderte Menschen und Personen eingeschränkter Mobilität, unabhängig davon, ob die Ursache dafür Behinderung, Alter oder andere Faktoren sind, die gleichen Flugreisemöglichkeiten wie andere Bürger haben. Behinderte Menschen und Personen mit eingeschränkter Mobilität haben die gleichen Rechte wie andere Bürger auf Freizügigkeit, Wahlfreiheit und Nichtdiskriminierung. Dies gilt für Flugreisen wie für andere Lebensbereiche." sch
Besides, the situation - unmistakably set up to provide clear vision for gawkers - was not helpful for the true security issue at all. There is a lot of pressure on security personnel as they are also stared at - not just me, who is somewhat used to getting stared at even though I don't like it. Besides it is even impolite in Germany! Who'd a thunk it.
So, security people will perform badly under stress, so far they all did. Obviously they would benefit from reading at least some of what Cloerkes has to say. They should have checked my prosthetic socket for content. As they have no idea how long my stump is they have no idea whether I carry apple juice (strictly forbidden on board) or orange juice (just as forbidden as apple juice) or any other fluid. So far, each and every time, the socket was not checked even when I explained to them that the rest of their magic sweeps are 'fruitless' if they don't check the socket for at the very least apple juice - even more as I beg for it in the name of societal safety. Sure when I am traveling and lug around bags the arm may be ever so slightly smelly - but so are my feet, and security always seemed to just love going after my boots. To one guy I said "check it, it's your duty!". But it's like they are deaf. They appear to enact a type of hysteria - even though it seems to be a distant and cold type of hysteria - that is so far away from rational thought or observation that they could even send an 'excuse me note' my way with triple light speed and it wouldn't get here at least till Christmas and no one is surprised that afterwards no one cares any more. Seriously.
Visit Berlin Tegel and just try it out yourself :-) Take your photo team and video team with you, let the video team slip through security first, have an amputee stash half a liter of apple juice inside their prosthetic socket - and after that is all recorded in Cinemascope, go full circle, then type it up. Then enjoy the cheap juice.
Keywords - discrimination airport security illusion missing training of security personnel what on earth are they doing Germany Germans German nationalism disability prosthetic prosthesis amputation amputee Diskriminierung Flughafensicherheit Illusion Behinderung Fehlende Ausbildung Sicherheitspersonal Was zum teufel tun die da Deutsche Deutschland Deutschtum Brauchtum Das machen wir immer so Bei uns ziehn sich die Krüppel aus und wir glotzen zu Trülle Mittelalter Drittes Reich Nationalismus German Pride