‘Meet and assist’ with Delta

By Marilyn Hill
This item appears on page 14 of the August 2017 issue.

Prior to my flight to Italy on April 25, 2017, I called Delta Air Lines to request meet-and-assist services. I informed the agent that I could walk perfectly well but, since I was now 82 and traveling alone, I wanted to have help in Amsterdam on May 9 to make the 90-minute connection to my flight home to Portland.

Because I had a 3-hour layover upon arriving in Venice for my flight back to Amsterdam, I did not need assistance for that international transfer, nor did I need it for two others in smaller airports. However, I was told that in order to make sure the assist for the Amsterdam/Portland transfer was noted properly in my record, they needed to request assistance for me for all of the transfers — including the outgoing Portland/Amsterdam and Amsterdam/Venice and, returning, Venice/Amsterdam — and then, when asked at check-in for these other flights if I wanted a wheelchair or other assistance, I should simply decline. That is what I did.

On the code-share KLM Royal Dutch Airlines/Delta Air Lines flight from Venice to Amsterdam, our plane arrived a bit early and was unable to get a gate, so the bulk of the passengers deplaned quite a ways from the terminal and were boarded onto two buses to be taken to it. Toward the end of that flight, those of us who had requested “meet and assist” had each been notified to remain in our seats until the rest of the passengers had gone.

Soon a minivan arrived to take the remaining seven of us to a covered outdoor area of the main terminal, where a few were helped into wheel­chairs. Those of us who were ambulatory walked to an area inside the terminal, where two motorized carts picked us up. 

There was only one other person in my cart. After she was delivered elsewhere, I eventually was taken to a small, separate area, similar to an actual “gate.” No explanation was provided, but my arrival was noted, and I was told to have a seat and wait until I was called, which turned out to be about 20 fidgety minutes later. 

There were people of many different nationalities in the “waiting room.” Not knowing what was to become of us, other people (some of whom spoke no English at all) were as concerned and confused as I was. 

Eventually, a few began to disappear, while others arrived. I finally heard my name called, and I was instructed to climb aboard another cart, which arrived with two people already in it. They had been picked up from other arrival gates.

I saw a woman behind a counter with a cell phone and computer, and I finally realized that the whole procedure had been organized extremely well. 

The three of us in the cart were then driven to a separate area with a private passport-control kiosk. 

We arrived at the gate with a half hour to spare before boarding began. Whew!

Marilyn Hill
Portland, OR