Traveling With A Hearing Loss During The Pandemic

I apologize for lack of updates. I had a major case of writer’s block and had no idea what to write about.Then I saw a post from Instagram’s HardofHearingMama discussing the deaf and hard of hearing people traveling during a pandemic. This gave me inspiration to write about this topic.

I have not flown on a plane in like 4 years when I went to Los Angeles from northeast Wisconsin. Obviously this was long before the pandemic broke out. But being of hard of hearing myself, traveling by plane was still a challenge.

I had to fly out out of Appleton, WI, connect in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and then fly to LAX in Los Angeles. I reversed that on the return trip. It was my first solo flight after previously flying with hearing people. So I knew it’d be a challenge. The ticket counter was the easy part. The attendant looked at me and spoke clearly. I got my boarding pass and was off to the security checkpoint. There, I told the first TSA agent that I was hard of hearing. Again, no issues. They looked at me as they instructed me what to do such as taking off my shoes and going through the metal detector.

Boarding the plane was the biggest challenge. I had no idea when the announcement would be made for my turn to board the plane. So I went up to the gate agent long before I was set to board, told her my flight number and told her I was deaf (easier for me to say deaf than hard of hearing in this situation) and she understood the situation. She said she would let me know when it’s my turn. I just had to sit close to the gate so she could see me and I could see her. When it was time to board, she gestured to me and I walked over, handed over my boarding pass and was on the plane.

I had no issues with my connecting flight in Chicago as well. In fact, the gate agent allowed me to be in the first group to board even though my boarding pass was like group five. The first group of people were either disabled or injured. One guy in the group was on crutches, for example. Another lady was in a wheelchair. I didn’t consider myself disabled, but I wasn’t about to argue – LOL. We boarded the plane together before the rest of the passengers.

I also had no issues on the return flight from Los Angeles. In fact, the employees at LAX were very helpful. When I first arrived at LAX to check in, I had no idea where to check in. It was a humongous airport, compared to tiny Appleton International Airport. But a nice man working at LAX sensed my confusion, asked me if I needed help and I said yes. He saw my hearing aid and made sure to look at me. He took me to a self check-in kiosk where I printed out my boarding pass. Passing through TSA was a bit of a challenge. It was much busier than the one in Appleton. They were in hurry up mode because they were trying to get people through quickly as possible. I had a minor issue trying to understand the agents, but we finally got it sorted out and I passed through security with no further issues. Boarding the plane was also no issues. In fact, there was was a shift change with the gate agents while I was waiting to board. The first gate agent told the incoming gate agent that I was deaf. The incoming agent then let me board with the first group like in Chicago.

Again, this was back in the day before COVID. No one were wearing masks. It was life as normal. So I just cannot imagine traveling today during a time when everyone are wearing masks. It is difficult enough for me to understand some people even unmasked. It is damn impossible for me to understand people wearing masks.

So I wanted to give Janna AKA HardOfHearingMama major props for her tips on deaf and hard of hearing people traveling during a pandemic. She had it well planned out and it looks like her trip was successful. You can find her post here.

Until next time, this is the Deaf Geeky Guy signing off. Feel free to comment.

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