Hey friends, I wanted to do a blog on my experience of Manchester Airport and Copenhagen when I went for a long weekend away. A week before we were going I emailed the Eagle Hoist company at Manchester airport all of my personal details and flight details of my going out and coming back flights.
When we arrived at the airport on Thursday morning, a man was there waiting for me with the Eagle Hoist to get on the aeroplane. He was very thorough and made sure everything was exactly right. Once I was on the plane, in my seat comfortably the man said goodbye and reassured me that the Eagle Hoist would be waiting for us when we land on Sunday night.
When I arrived in Copenhagen the airport staff were very helpful, unfortunately a luggage trolley was blocking the way so the ambilift could not get to the aeroplane to get me off, then once one trolley pulled off another one went straight in the way again. The assistance staff decided to bring the ambilift to the back of the plane and came all the way to the front of the plane where I was sitting with an aisle seat. Mum had already told the staff that I wasn’t able to use an aisle seat and explained why, so we just had to wait for the way to be clear so they could bring the ambilift to the front of the plane to get me off as originally planned. After what felt like ages and ages, I was off the aeroplane and a mini bus was waiting to take us to the airport so we can continue our holiday, the minibus was good, it had a tail lift so I could get on easily, the man who was operating the tail lift, was no so good. He wasn’t trained on how to use it, so instead of putting it up properly, he pressed the button to stow it. If you’re not sure what this means, it’s where the tail lift closes upwards to be put away, that’s fine, but I was still on the tail lift! Once we finally got off the minibus and into the airport (with a huge sigh of relief, may I add) the airport staff were once again great, they called for a wheelchair accessible taxi to take us to our hotel, the man was lovely and with us in just 10 minutes. 15 minutes later, we arrived at our beautiful hotel, The Copenhagen Island Hotel. The staff were super kind and helpful, the public areas were all modern and spacious. We were given our keys and we found out bedroom, it was good, it had 2 beds and my wheelchair could fit through the doorway just fine.
We spent the long weekend exploring rainy Copenhagen, we went to the Tivoli Gardens. There was lots of Christmas decorations and a Christmas market. There was a stunning Swarovski Christmas tree that glistened so magically, the atmosphere was just perfect. We went to the Lego Store, The Guinness World Records Attraction (I could only explore one floor though as they didn’t have a big enough lift, and you had to go up steps to get into the lift) and the Fisketorvet Copenhagen Shopping Mall that was a quick minute walk from our hotel. I did lots of research before we went and it said on their website,
“At Fisketorvet there is located a large number of restrooms for our guest. Several of these are equipped with changing table, other are adapted to disabled. Follow the directions in the mall to find them. We do everything to make your visit at Fisketorvet as comfortable as possible.” – https://www.fisketorvet.dk/en/service-detail/Restrooms
Unfortunately, we looked and looked, but none of the restrooms were equipped with changing tables for disabled people, which was a real shame.
We went in lots of different restaurants and cafes, none of these were street level though, they were either a few steps up or a few steps down, neither of which is good for wheelchair users like myself. The majority of the streets were cobbled, which made for a very bumpy journey every time we went out. We had to walk everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE! There were no wheelchair accessible taxis and we were to.d that the lift at the train/metro station close to our hotel was permanently ‘Out of Order’, perfect! The main Central Station was good for wheelchair users once you got there that is. It had plenty of lifts to the platforms which made it easy to get around the station, the only down side was that you had to pre-book your train tickets all the time if you were a wheelchair user. This was to ensure a ramp was available and staff were on hand to assist. I didn’t use the Central Station as I had no need for it really as I couldn’t get on/off at the stop near the hotel, due to not being able to get up/down from the platform, because of the ‘out of order’ lift.
Copenhagen was a beautiful place with colourful buildings, very similar to Amsterdam. If you are not a wheelchair user, it is fantastic and really worth visiting, however, as a full-time wheelchair user I would NOT recommend it, especially if you have a power chair.
On the last day, Mum spoke to reception and asked if there was anyway we could borrow a room just for me to get dry and changed before we had to go to the airport. The kind lady on reception told us to keep our bedroom for the day in case we needed it, so we were able to use it whenever we wanted on the last day. Mum also asked her to book us a wheelchair accessible taxi back to the airport, mum clearly told the lady it must have a ramp or a tail lift to get me in. We went back to our bedroom to dry off as it had rained and rained and rained so I was drenched! I had a lie on the bed to give me a stretch before our taxi was due to take us back to the airport. We headed down the lift to where our taxi was. There was a taxi there. A normal car, yes it was big but it was NOT accessible for me! Mum went back to reception and explained what had happened that the taxi company had sent the wrong car. The receptionist was so helpful, she called different taxi companies to see if they had a more suitable car, unfortunately none did. Not one taxi company in Copenhagen had a wheelchair accessible taxi. She asked how we got to the hotel and we explained that we came in a wheelchair accessible minibus that the airport rang to organise transport for us. The hotel didn’t have the contact details for this man and we didn’t know them either! Time was ticking by and we were getting very anxious about missing our flight home, we had to do whatever it took to get us on that flight. This meant Dad had to lift me out my wheelchair and into the car. Dad squeezed my wheelchair into the back of the car on its side (I honestly have no idea how he did it, but dad made it work). Lauren had to sit one side of me and Dad the other to make sure I was safe while we travelled to the airport. This was not ideal in the slightest, dad tried to pull me up but if you know me, you know I CANNOT sit at 90 degrees, let alone put my bum at the back of the seat. Lauren and dad did everything they could to make me comfy, and we made do until we got to the airport (oh, mum and James had to travel in a separate taxi as there wasn’t enough space for us all and our luggage, especially with my chair rammed up to the back window on its side!)
We got to the airport and spoke to check in before heading to security. Yet again, another unfortunate situation! All of my cases and equipment got searched, everything was pulled out and left out for mum to very quickly put away as we were already flustered from the taxi situation!
Finally, we made it to the gate, let me tell you, what a walk to the gate it was, it took us about 25 minutes just to get to the gate, then it came on the tannoy that the gate had changed, so off we went again!
We had a little disagreement with the special assistance as I needed to be sat on the right side of the plane so I could use the Eagle Hoist back in Manchester when we landed, this didn’t go down very well with the staff as they said people had paid for those seats and they will not ask them to move to the left of the plane. I didn’t see the issue, they would only be moving from one side to the other, not a big deal, the special assistance guy didn’t share the same opinion. When we finally got on the ambilift and they raised it up to the plane for me to get onboard, it was short and didn’t quite reach the aeroplane entrance, so the people had to lift me up and put me on the plane. When I got on the plane another staff member came and sorted the seating situation so I was able to use the Eagle Hoist once we landed in Manchester. Unfortunately, with the issue of being lifted into the plane, my chair had caught on the plane and damaged it a little, this meant we had to wait for someone to come out and check that the plane was still safe to fly (which it was and we were able to set off home, finally!) While all of this was happening, we didn’t know that my wheelchair had been left outside, in the pouring rain!
When we landed in Manchester a man came on the aeroplane, but he didn’t have the Eagle Hoist with him. Mum asked him where it was and he tried telling us that we hadn’t booked it. Mum told him to go and check his information as the booking was on the same email as the booking on the way out. He was very argumentative and would not listen to us, but he eventually checked what we were telling him and realised we weren’t lying. When the guy came back to us, he tried telling us that the person who operates the Eagle Hoist was off with sickness so there wasn’t anyone at that point who was trained to use it. The man was very high tempered and even the captain told him to calm down! Yet again, I ended up being manually lifted out my seat by my Dad, the other guy just held my wheelchair handles (his idea of helping was slightly holding my chair and looking around while dad was trying to get me back in my wheelchair). When I sat down my wheelchair it was absolutely soaking wet! It was so uncomfortable and I knew I had to be sat in it for ages yet until we got home! Yuck!!!
We spoke to the captain and he advised us to put a complaint into the special assistance about the service we received and he told us he would be doing the same! When my mum spoke to someone else they told her that no-one on the night shift was trained to use the Eagle Hoist. I want to know why we wasn’t told this when we emailed our booking, I didn’t even receive a confirmation email of the hoist booking, so I was just really hoping for the best when we arrived at Manchester airport; even though the man who assisted me onto the plane when we left Manchester to Copenhagen assured me the hoist would be waiting for me when I landed back home, which it definitely was not!
The whole taxi/transport and Eagle Hoist situation made me very anxious, frustrated and sad. They are not situations I would like any wheelchair user to be put in. I tried so hard to plan everything in advance, from researching changing facilities to making bookings for the Eagle Hoist one whole week in advance, to try and make our long weekend away as easy and stress-free as possible. This really did not help though!
Copenhagen is such a lovely place, IF you are relatively able-bodied I think you would be absolutely fine; just make sure you take lots of money as it is a rather expensive place!
Would I go back? No
Would I suggest it for wheelchair users? No
Would I recommend it for people who can walk or self-transfer out of their wheelchair? Yes
My experience was not a positive one but this will not stop me travelling and exploring new places. My aim is to make everywhere more accessible and inclusive for all and I will continue vlogging and blogging to share my experiences in hope that it helps others!
Thank you for reading my blog on Copenhagen.