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[personal profile] baratron
I have many photos of my trip to the US to post, when I get A Round Tuit. They are crappy mobile phone pictures, but I cannot be bothered to carry a real camera with me any more. I am a terrible photographer with the best equipment in the world, and I'm more interested in recording memories than attempting to take good shots.

Currently I am worrying about being stranded in New York tomorrow once Delta drop me off there.

It turns out that Aer Lingus are morons. I've had several "incidents" with them this trip and am never flying with them again, but in the meantime they are supposed to be getting me home to London tomorrow.

So they sent me a form to fill in various details about my battery, and I was supposed to indicate whether it was "Lithium-ion battery type" or "Non Spillable/Sealed led acid/ Gel type" (sic). I indicated YES by non-spillable lead-acid, and gave them the details about voltage and size which they required (2 x 12V x 60Ah). In reply, the Special Assistance desk sent back another email saying "Could you please advise battery type of electric wheelchair?".

I was a little confused and figured they didn't understand what a non-spillable lead-acid battery was, so told them "Like a car battery only safe for flight." BIG MISTAKE.

In reply, I got the following incoherent and barely English email:

HI Helen, (sic)

What do you mean like a car battery? Car batteries are not safe for an aircraft? So as you can imagine I am concerned of the type of battery you are carrying? Is it a car battery? .

Do you have a car battery? In your machine?

Please advise so I can proceed with clearance.

Thank you in advance,

Regards,
Linda

I literally cannot facepalm hard enough. Remember that I am talking to the Special Assistance department, who are supposed to be trained in understanding equipment used by disabled people. An electric wheelchair is a pretty basic piece of kit which I'd expect them to deal with extremely regularly. Their own form specified two types of flight-safe batteries: Lithium-ion (which could be described as "like a mobile phone or laptop computer battery") and Non-spillable/Sealed lead-Acid ("like a car battery but sealed so it is safe for air transport").

[personal profile] otterylexa said "mentioning car batteries was a mistake", and that the people at Aer Lingus are "Reading for trigger words, not for content", and she is correct on both counts. But honestly, the first email that I received was so vague that I didn't know what they were getting at. I thought they genuinely didn't understand what a non-spillable lead-acid battery was. And the second mail gives that impression even more strongly.

So I sent them a photo of the battery, showing the sticker on it which says "Air Transport Approved" and that it meets the requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation Code of Federal Regulations ยง173.159d and the International Air Transport Association Special provision A67 and Packing Instruction 806. But there is every possibility they will decide they don't want to let me on the plane with my highly dangerous "car battery". So I am making contingency plans, Just In Case.

Later, I will have another attempt to talk to an actual human at Aer Lingus. When I tried earlier I just ended up on hold for 10 minutes. Now Grant & I are going out for dinner with [personal profile] hoopycat and Dawn.
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