Waiting for Kellisa’s "Mile High Miracle"

By Chris Kain, kellisaspath.com

After a recent flight with Kellisa, I overheard two passengers respond, “No, I’m OK” and “No, I can make it” when asked by the flight attendant if they needed the wheelchairs that were waiting for them in the jet way. It was an apt query on the part of the attendant because they needed wheelchairs to board the flight. With great hope, I looked at Kellisa, but sadly knew that she would still need her wheelchair.

This is the latest example of what I call “Mile High Miracles.” Kellisa is almost 17-years-old and has been flying her entire life. If I define a flight as a takeoff and landing, then Kellisa has flown more than 400 times. I fly a lot for my job, so my count is easily in the thousands. I’ve witnessed these miracles more times than I can count because they happen on almost every flight that I’m on, and I’m desperately hoping Kellisa will be the recipient of one of these miracles someday.

I define a “Mile High Miracle” as a passenger who needs a wheelchair to get through security in the wheelchair lane followed by priority boarding. Then something supernatural must occur at 35,000 ft. because when the plane lands and pulls up to the gate, they can miraculously walk off the plane without needing a wheelchair anymore. I understand the where, but I wish I knew the how, why, and when these miracles take place. I watch closely to see if there’s a flash of light or a distinct aura surrounding these passengers, but the clues remain evasive.

Dad Sounds Off about People Who Abuse Airline Wheelchair Policies

Of course, I say that in jest. I know exactly why these passengers don’t need wheelchairs upon landing. They want to get through security quicker by faking a disability and then they want to board first to pick their preferred seat and/or use premium bin space. And when the plane lands, they want to grab their belongings and run off the plan first. I wish they could understand how insulting and infuriating these despicable actions are to those with real disabilities.

We’ve seen families with two children playing with an airport wheelchair. The kids take turns running while pushing the other kid around the airport. Then when it’s time to board, one of the kids requires the use of the wheelchair so they can board first and they do this in front of Kellisa who’s trapped in her real wheelchair. What message are these parents teaching their young children?

In Baltimore, I saw a mother pushing a little girl in a wheelchair ahead of us and the girl jumped out of the wheelchair and ran through a few people, past two TSA agents, through the metal detector and almost past the baggage X-ray machine before an agent finally stopped her. The girl was escorted back to the mother and again, proceeded to run away. This happened 4 or 5 times before the mother was able to have the girl sit still in the wheelchair for a few minutes. Once through security, the mother used the wheelchair as a baggage cart while the child ran around wildly.

Sore Knee? REALLY???

However, it’s usually an adult using the wheelchair to steal the “perks” of having disabilities and using a wheelchair. Afraid the airline was going to board us first, I even had the husband of a 50 something woman in an airport wheelchair lobby me to allow them to board before Kellisa because his wife has a “sore knee.”

Read about Kelissa and Chris' backcountry adventure
and close encounter with a bear!

I just looked at him as I couldn’t find a single word to mutter. He went on to say that she really needs the first row with extra legroom. I continued my stare of disbelief. His wife gave him a dirty look and then he questioned if Kellisa even needed her wheelchair. He was about to imply that she was lazy when I told him to stop right there and took a step towards him. He knew I was serious and I could tell he immediately felt threatened as he backed away and pushed his wife a safe distance away.

It took everything I had to remain non-violent. By the way, the front row across from us was open when they boarded just after us. For some reason, they walk by our row and safely sat in row 3. The wife received her miracle; she was able to walk off the plane and past the waiting airport wheelchairs after we landed. I watched from our seats as we waited for Kellisa’s real wheelchair to be delivered from the belly of the plane.

The airlines are powerless to do anything because they have to trust their customers and not question the actual needs of a person. I can only hope some form of karma catches up to these thieves, cheats, and liars.

I would gladly board last on every future flight, crammed in a middle seat next to two huge smelly passengers who clip their toe nails on the flight while having my bags checked because all the bin space was taken if Kellisa would just receive her “Mile High Miracle” and walk off a plane.

About the Author:

Chris Kain is Kellisa’s adventurous and devoted father. With a blog (www.kellisaspath.com), Chris shares Kellisa’s medical journey (not expected to survive more than a few hours after birth, 22 surgeries and countless brushes with death) and how she lives a life without limits (hiking, camping, kayaking, dancing, bike riding, playing little league baseball, bowling, bungee jumping and many other activities) as she continues to break the stereotypes of a girl dependent on a wheelchair.

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