Sunday, February 22, 2009

Return from Milan

Laura and I spent the last four days in Milan, Italy ("Milano" if you're Italian) and the neighboring cities of Bergamo and "fair Verona," as Shakespeare was known to write. It was a wonderful trip filled with sunshine, Roman ruins, and Renaissance masterpieces, all of which we'll share with you in the coming days. But for now, I shall whisk you off to the Milan Malpensa airport - where we "lay our scene," and a bizarre one at that.

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This tale of woe opens with Laura and I presenting our tickets to board our return flight from Milan. Laura, who as you will recall is newly and temporarily handicapped with an arm cast, was asked if she had a doctor's note to go along with her malady. This was a surprising question since no one had previously taken any interest in her cast - including security in both Amsterdam and Milan (the latter of whom confiscated our wine opener) and the employees responsible for us boarding the outbound flight from Amsterdam (on the same carrier, easyJet). Laura's answer, of course, was that no, she didn't have a doctor's note. And why would one be necessary?

"We can't let you board the flight without a doctor's certificate."

This was news to us, since she had already boarded a flight three days prior with no such thing.

"If you hadn't waited so late, the airport infirmary could have given you a note."

Well, if we had been informed the airline wouldn't serve the mildly disabled without a note, we surely would have gotten one. But this was all news to us. But there was a loophole - the overwhelmed ticket attendant called the captain to see if he would overrule the requirement and let Laura on the flight.

The answer was, of course, "No." At this point, fellow passengers in line nearby were starting to take notice of the situation with both curiosity and sympathy. Laura and I were starting to get worried about not being able to get home. So she did the natural thing: she asked the ticket attendant for scissors.

"I'm not telling you to take the cast off."

Laura's reply: "I'm not going to be stuck here." And with that, she began unraveling the soft outer layer of her cast while the ticket attendant looked on, aghast. As Laura pried apart the hard plaster layer, the ticket attendant (and others in line nearby) grimaced in imagined pain. But Laura was not deterred, as she pulled the last of the cast from her hand and gave it to the attendant to put in the garbage. The attendant watched in horrified silence as Laura, with her arm held close and her fingers bent awkwardly, scooted underneath the divider to join me in line. We boarded the plane with no further complaints from the ticket attendant or the captain.

What can I say? Laura's a trooper, folks.

After returning home, we found the rule in some fine print on easyJet's website:
You are not permitted to travel within 48 hours of having your cast fitted. Plaster casts that have been fitted for less than 48 hours need to be split. The split need to run along the entire length of the cast which must have been done prior to check in.

In all cases, passengers travelling [sic] with broken or fractured limbs in plaster are required to travel with a medical certificate confirming fitness to fly and the date that the cast was fitted.

The rule doesn't seem to be concerned with the cast being used to wallop fellow passengers (which was our initial assumption), but instead for the well-being of the person actually wearing the cast. Of course, Laura had been in the cast for well over 48 hours (as evident from the dirt, gelato, and pasta stains all over it), the cast was split by design, Laura was obviously fit to fly since she made it to Milan in the first place, and her injury didn't meet the usual definition of "broken" or "fractured."

So thanks, easyJet, for making Laura's next treatment that much more interesting, since the doctor will surely be perplexed about Laura's missing cast. (And please, doctor - can we get a note this time?)


The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from SITS. That sounds terrible! I would have been furious.

TL said...

Stopping in from SITS.
What an ordeal. Laura's a fast thinker, and has a high pain tolerance!

Patrice said...

Oh my gosh! That is crazy! I don't know what I wouldve done in that situation... Probably not rip off my cast but more power to you!