Aeroport de Paris, Charles De Gaulle / Unwelcome at Charles De Gaulle Airport
Addressing this directly to Management of Charles De Gaulle Airport,
There is something which, for us as a family, for the second time around, has NOT arrived at CDG Airport and that is Autism Awareness.
On travelling back to Ireland from Disneyland on the 10.05.2015 we were advised by our Disney Hotel to contact the "Welcome" Desk at our Terminal to discuss getting assistance through the gates and security with both of our sons, Luke and Sam, who are both autistic.
My husband approached the representative at the desk to discuss this, the Rep had no clue what he was talking about and when he returned to me as I waited trying to calm both our sons, she proceeded to snigger with her Colleague at such a ridiculous request.
At the same time, my eldest son had the mother of all Meltdowns as he can find large crowds and strange places overwhelming and complete sensory overload. On witnessing this, she approached us to ask at the desk downstairs at our Check-In.
I approached this person afterward, requesting her name, because it is obvious to me, that if you have a job at the “Welcome” desk, you should know what that entails and the possible queries you can be faced with. Is this the first time someone travelling with Autistic Children has asked for assistance at your airport? She refused to give me her name and that she "did not UNDERSTAND" Not good enough.
You need to take the example of the OCS Services provided by the DAA at Dublin airport who were so kind and accommodating to us on our way TO Paris, they were also fully aware of what was expected of them and the staff at the airline actually suggested that they try to set up the same for us in CDG. But of course, there was no one waiting for us when we landed. Not surprising to me. However, we appreciated THEIR effort.
This is the first time we have requested assistance at an airport, but as our youngest son is now diagnosed with Autism also, it seemed the most responsible thing to do to make the travel as stress-free for them as possible.
The whole experience was so upsetting, stressful and exhausting, thanks to the incompetence of staff and the unwillingness to understand or help.
Going through security, the attendants were more annoyed at our mere presence and the fact we had to attend to the boys than interested to help.
It was a serious undertaking for us to travel with both boys, we did not need your ignorance or arrogance in making it such an unpleasant experience.
I would have expected that such a large international airport would be committed to ensuring that all passengers are treated fairly and with due respect.
So my question to you is... what are you doing about this? What have you done to ensure your staff are aware of the needs of people travelling with Autism?
As a mother I'm disgusted and furious for my boys. As someone who has worked for a large multinational company for the last 12 years in Customer support, I am AMAZED that you can function without being aware of the needs of your customers. The statistics of people with autism is growing rapidly; it is not good enough to simply say you don't understand. Do something about it.
I am sending this because I want you to be ready for the next mother or father who comes to you for help when they need it. Get informed, do your jobs correctly. Get rid of staff that are unwilling to be tolerant. I will be avoiding CDG like the PLAGUE. I will also ensure that all my local community groups are warned. We might be a small island, with much more growing to do in terms of Autism Awareness, but we are very obviously light years ahead of you at “Aeroport de Paris”
When the attendant at our Check-In Desk called for assistance, they told us that they might only be able to take 2 of us and were willing to let us wait until 20 minutes before our flight, with no opportunity to go get food or drinks for the children. We met a family who were also looking for assistance with a child in a wheelchair, who were panicking because they were left waiting for 45 minutes wondering would help ever come, or would they miss their flight, and again, from a family of 4 only 2 may be taken. We decided to go ahead together as a family to ensure that boys had something to eat and drink after an hour’s journey from our Disney hotel, 2 hours at the airport and a flight of an hour and half ahead.
I understand there are always exceptional scenarios, however, we experienced the same ignorance our last time in CDG where the security staff rudely shouted at my son to keep it down when he jumped up and down and shouted (his form of stimming – go read about it) I had to explain to her what autism was, and that he could not help his reaction. She also was unwilling to listen.
That experience was almost 4 years ago… and look how far you have come….
I want to know what you plan to do next.