Flying without wings (or ears)

There are many factors to travelling when deaf.  I love travelling alone (another post for another time!) but I always make sure I do a few things when flying. 

I let the airline know I am deaf when I check in or drop my case off, so if there is ever any issues or a case of emergency they would know to have an airline steward let me know directly. They often ask if I need assistance which I don’t, but I mainly do it to make them aware and they usually give me a filled in form to hand in at the boarding gate. 

It’s just communication, plain (plane?) and simple. 

Window seat? Yes, I love the view and let’s be morbid, if the plane fails and falls out of the sky at least I get a good view rather than surrounded by screaming people, with no idea what is happening, which would only heighten your own panic and confusion. Plus you can ignore the people sitting next to you, so no awkward small talk. 

Aisle seat? Let your fellow seatmate know you are deaf in case you are blocking their exit to the aisle and if you fall asleep, their first instinct is probably to talk to you to wake you up, so that’s no good. Yes, you may get a stranger nudging you but better than waking up, due to someone clambering over you. Awkward for all involved. 

I swear by these Mentos Big Gum pieces when flying. Not an ad, although if they’d send me a lifetimes supply for my travels, I wouldn’t say no 😉

The pieces are big enough to chew properly on your molars as close to the ears as possible,  opening and closing your estauchian tubes and the juiciness makes you swallow, also helping to equalise the pressure. None of these skinny wrigleys or puny extras or the non chewiness of wine gums, which I love but honestly, a few chews and you’re done and from personal experience, accidentally scoffing a whole pack of wine gums due to panic chewing as the airplane increasingly climbs makes you feel sick. 

You need something to last a bit longer and not so sickly. Due to the size of the Mentos, they do last the whole taxii-ng and taking off procedure. I usually pop two at a time on the runway and go for a third when climbing in the air. Make those Eustachian tubes work!

There’s 15 in a pack so there’s enough for your return flight home. 

Please note if you neck them all (why?), it does say on the package that there is a laxative effect, but any way to get you moving on the plane, hey?

The red fruit and lime taste is yum too, anything lime based is a winner in my eyes! 

 If you’re flying whilst deaf and wear BTE aids like I do, for goodness sake, take your hearing aids off so there’s no extra barrier for the air pressure to equalise against, otherwise you will get extremely painful ear pressure that won’t ‘pop’ and will block your ears.

Enjoy the peace and quiet if there is a crying baby on board or Business Bros intent on discussing their deals the whole flight. Ahhhh, bliss. 

I love the novelty of not wearing my hearing aids when awake and it may help me realise more about what I can and can’t hear.

 Can you hear that luggage bin closing above your head when the stewardesses slams it? 

Are you aware of the tannoy announcement even if you don’t know what they are saying? Different things to experience and make a note of.

I try to fly only with Virgin as I feel they are one of the best airlines in terms of customer service and they have always been really good for me (Virgin Flight Club represent!). Their online entertainment systems have changed throughout the years and thankfully always improving! 

The latest airplanes have the Vera online entertainment system with a fantastic clear quality screen and they have helpfully recently put captioned films in a category all of their own, under Genres. 

They have a fantastic selection of films 


(yes I am watching Zootropolis for the third time, don’t judge) and you can line them all up in a “saved movies” playlist  and hit play! 

I just wish they would add subtitled versions of the documentaries as well as some kids shows. Would love to watch the Nora Ephron documentary! 

Customs – As SOON as you approach the counter, let the border person know you are deaf, you lipread or communicate through writing or if you have any special communication needs. This is important as they are your gatekeeper to freedom from the airport and you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot! 

Enjoy the destination, safe travels and I’ll write more about travelling when deaf. See you on the flip side! 

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