Sunday 3 February 2019

Antigua 2019

It's hard to make these reports real time as life goes on and its currently the evening of my 1st full day in Antigua with 2 large rum and 'Ting's' in me belly. This is the 3rd time my wheels have visited this island in the Carabbean and I'm happy to be back

I had a long day yesterday rising at 4:15 and a taxi to Jersey airport at 5:30. I'm just one of those people who isn't late but traveling with lithium powered machinery by plane requires that extra time

Despite the possibility of snow in Jersey all was clear and flying to Gatwick airport was easy. The check-in staff know me by name and are happy to speed me through security and the boarding process and I was the first passenger on the plane

Gatwick arrival was also fairy easy but you never know what you gonna get from the "special assistance" staff. Sometimes you get "do you need to go to the toilet now Mr Tipping" but most assistants are great. Unfortunately it's the loaders that need to sign off on your wheelchair and the presence of lithium batteries puts fear in their very hearts

I have a set of "Acceptance for Travel Guidelines" that can help with getting lithium powered devices onto planes and into the air. The decision makers are the lead loaders that sign off the cargo as safe to travel. Lithium ion batteries ring many bells with loaders and the designated Genny route via the travel document is to surrender the chair with legs up and infokey removed and to wait 7- 9 mins till the lights go out. Loaders generally don't have the required time to wait that long and every time Genny is moved the clock resets itself again. I have been responsible for several delays and I think this is a big issue with Genny flying. To assist I have equipped my Genny with an additional battery isolation switch that sits under the seat and tricks people into thinking Genny is fully dead and safe to travel. This is great when it works but deviates from the "Acceptance for travel guidelines" which can be a problem in itself

Yesterday in Gatwick airport I had a loader that insisted I remove the lithium batteries. I delivered the guidance docs and proudly demonstrated the isolation switch but he was determined to get the barrettes off and into the cabin. So cornered I pulled out my hidden toolkit - the one stashed in the seat cover that never should have made it through security. Tipping Genny onto its side I attempted to remove the batteries but not having been removed for a while the Allen screws were not going anywhere. It was obvious the batteries were going nowhere and the clock was ticking so I resorted to asking for the captain to make the final shout. Flight Captains 10 mins before departure are busy people but convinced by my magic switch he signed off on the hazardous goods form and we were away

It's a long day flying to the Carabbean but I love it that you leave in the dark worried if the snow will stop the flight - finishing the day swimming in 28°C blue Carabbean waters
Such a beautiful Harbour and so full of posh yachts

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