Flying Delta with T1D...
We recently cruised the Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise lines. We had booked this vacation before diagnose and I almost canceled after finding out Jilly had T1D due to a fear of traveling overseas. Her doctor assured me it would be ok and that the only way to be truly safe would be to take him along with us. I love her D team.
This cruise was the second trip we've taken since diagnose. On our first T1D trip in which we went to San Francisco we flew Alaska Airlines. I love Alaska. They serve Diet Cream Soda, you can rent a digiplayer on long trips for $10, and overall the planes are nice and clean. Alaska Airlines gets an A from me. I also just got an email from them of a charity program where you can donate your air miles to go towards Haiti relief efforts and they will match what's donated. Being an Alaskan customer gives me warm fuzzies.
For this trip we flew Delta to Miami - and honestly Delta is a huge steamy pile of poo. I remember flying it in the 80's and then the airline seemed so elegant and sophisticated. Forward ahead 20 years and you can see why they are in trouble. The counters were clearly understaffed. They required you to enter a long line to print your boarding pass, and then another long line to check baggage. Even the skycap was understaffed with it's own huge line. Our check in took an hour longer than Alaska, despite being understaffed they were very peculiar about every checked bag insisting on weighing and measuring each one to see if they could charge you even more for your luggage. Alaska Airline's process is so streamlined, plenty of boarding pass kiosks in SeaTac and fast at taking luggage.
So even though we gave ourselves 3 hours at the airport - anticipating that we may have slowness between security and our extra medical bag and wanting time to feed Jilly breakfast as we were there at 4am - we spent an hour just trying to check in our luggage.
Next was scanning everything through security. On our previous trip I've had Jilly's insulin hand checked both at the Seatac airport and the one in San Fran with no problems. This time I had the worst luck of getting a super cranky guard. Super cranky people who hate their jobs appeared to be the theme of the day. When I handed guard the Humalog and Levimir pens asking for them to be hand checked. I was met with rudeness and resistance. I had to keep explaining what the insulin was for, why I didn't want it run through the scanner - I've read on the CWB that some people noticed a difference with the insulin after going through the XRay. And as I was going overseas I didn't want to take any chances and wanted some of the insulin hand checked. They happily did for me two months earlier when we flew to San Fran. I showed her the travel letter from our endo which states that Jilly has T1D and everything she needs for it. And then the woman had the nerve to slowly scrutinize the travel letter word by word then tell me that no where in it does it state that the insulin requires to be hand checked - I insisted. Because seriously they'll hand check CAMERAS with out batting an eye and they won't do her life required medicine. Funny enough Jilly was still wearing the Omnipod demo pod which they didn't even notice. So the guard finally told me she'd do it for me this one time (mainly because I wasn't going to budge on what I wanted) but in the future it needed to state that in the letter the medicine required hand checking. The whole thing felt more like she didn't want to put in the extra work to hand check it (because it is a little extra work wiping and scanning it all down) than that she was worried about security.
In total we flew 4 Delta plans for this trip counting both directions and the flights were long. Flying to Miami we had 3 personal items and 4 carry on's - one of which was a bag strictly containing Jilly's medicine. The carry on's we use are mostly pilot cases, one of which is quite small being little more than a box on wheels as it's a kiddie pilot. Another is a laptop back pack. On Alaska all of these carry on's will fit under the seats. One of the bags can be a slight tight fit to slide it under at first as the space between the seats isn't that wide but once down it'll fit under easily. All of our carry on bags fit Delta's requirements but none of them would fit under the seats. Not even the laptop bag. The Delta planes that have the small TV's on the back of the seats have the seats considerably closer to the ground. So that only personal items will fit under them - I packed the bags assuming they'd go under the seat and I would have easy access to her supplies. Once we realized they wouldn't fit we had to quickly get some food and her kit out before stowing them in the overhead bin which made the airline stewards cranky about blocking the isle. And because no one's carry on's fit under the seat that made the overhead bins overfull with more bags than space. And that includes in the first class area. For the flight home we packed one of the carry on's inside our luggage to minimize the space and ensure our luggage stayed together. When the airline stewards attempted to move our bags from our area above our seats where they all fit in order to make room for someone else's bag my husband insisted that it stay in our area and asked them to be careful as the bag contained his lap top. The airline stewardess (yeah Janice I'm talking about you) roughly shoved the bag into a different bin and said 'That's not my problem'. I can't help but wonder if we asked her to be careful with Jilly's medical bag her response would have been the same. Doesn't give me much faith in them if there was an emergency.
All four planes were exceptionally filthy. Trash in the seat pockets, ripped seats and the real kicker was the dried booger on the seat in front of me. Thank god for hand wipes. Delta serves pretzels, peanuts and these yummy delta cookies that have no nutritional information on the wrappers - only a phone number you can call. Who's going to call that in the air? They were very generous with snacks though. On our first plane we asked what diet sodas they had and were told only Diet Coke. We found out later they also carried Coke Zero. They also gave me extra cookies when I started to feel motion sick due to a neighbors overwhelming perfume.
We packed our own food because we didn't' want to deal with buying airline food. We also didn't know what to expect for food on the ship and port so I wanted extras. All the food was in our medical carry on.
For the trip we carried: Mini hillshire farms hot dogs with cheese, cheese sticks, jerky, Halloween granola bars in awesome portion sizes, Halloween grips also in awesome portion sizes (and here my husband made fun of me for buying so much during Halloween). Horizon milk that doesn't require refrigeration, 2 bananas, peanut butter crackers, cheese crackers, a couple of sandwiches, sugar free water flavoring, an empty water bottle, 2 juice boxes, a few pieces of candy.
At Miami our luggage took over an hour to show up on the carousel and it didn't help that Jilly was tired and wanted a real dinner. Everyone from the plane was mad and cranky - and staring at an empty carousel didn't help anyone. At Seatec our luggage came promptly so maybe it's just the Miami port.
More comming in part 2...