I have a lot to live up to! :-)

I’m into my second week with Sigma, and on Monday they published a blog post with the news. I wrote the bio (the middle part), and they wrote the first and last bits. I feel really honoured and grateful to be so well thought of, and delighted to be working with such great people. If I weren’t already highly motivated to finish my thesis, the knowledge that I’ll have more time to spend with these folks would put me there. Can’t wait to make this move!

I’m returning to industry — in the UK

A year and a half ago I wrote a post about having decided to return to industry after my PhD instead of trying to stay in academia. I had realized, I explained, that at my age and with my experience I’d find more opportunities in industry — and it would also pay better. Well, I am delighted to announce that my efforts have borne fruit: as of today I have joined Sigma Consulting Solutions Ltd. as a Senior User Experience Consultant. I’m starting on a limited part-time basis while I finish my thesis, and after my Tier 2 General visa comes through I’ll switch to a permanent role in the company. When my three-month probationary period ends, I’ll buy a car and move to Cambridge. My permanent role will have me working three days a week, and I hope to spend the other two doing further research on my PhD topic (with the occasional extra-long-weekend excursion thrown in). I’m savoring the idea of being only an hour from London — close enough to go into the city for an evening event, and much more convenient than Newcastle for flights to (most of) the rest of the world.

This is a wonderful opportunity for me. I’m looking forward to returning “home” to UX consulting and to exploring how I can apply what I’ve learned in doing my PhD. I’m really excited about collaborating with a great group of UX folks who are interested in both my consulting experience and my PhD research. I don’t think I could have asked for better.

I’m also acutely aware that I’m going to miss the North East of England. But this will be arrivederci, not addio; I’ll be back for semi-regular visits. You’ve grown on me, Newcastle.

What a difference four years makes!

My guilty pleasure is that I watch murder mysteries on the web, mostly BBC and ITV shows that come available after the broadcast via their “Player” online services. I especially enjoy watching the ones filmed in and around Newcastle — of which there are at least four that I can think of off the top of my head. It tickles me to spot familiar places among the filming locations, and the other evening I hit the jackpot. I was watching an old episode of “Wire in the Blood” (they’re all old, actually, but this was an early one) and at one point I sat up straight and ran the video back a few seconds. Yep, there it was. My neighborhood. A street close to mine and parallel to it. I’ve seen that view a gazillion times, mostly heading to the supermarket or to the bus stop for the 15/15A.

What makes this especially interesting is that this was the second time I had watched that episode — but it was the first time I had noticed and recognized that location. My first viewing must have been fairly early in my time here, before I had built up enough of a “sense of place” of the neighborhood to “feel” such a view as home. But now, after four years, there it was.

The amazing thing is that there are probably thousands of streets in the Newcastle area that are lined with the classic Tyneside flats. But there are precious few — possibly only one — that have that particular configuration of high-rises in the distance and industrial building along the left side.

Nope, it’s my neighborhood all right.

Fortunately, it’s not my street. I would not have chosen to live in a place that looked out onto such an unappealing industrial area, nope nope nope. Its not being my street has the added advantage of letting me give you an idea of where I live without being too specific about it. :-)

Here are three screenshots that show the area.

Dinsdale Road, looking southwest

The scene that made me sit up and take notice, stopping the video to check what I was seeing (Dinsdale Road, looking southwest)

Dinsdale Road Eastbound

Looking the opposite way, north east on Dinsdale Road. The car ahead is stopped at the intersection of Dinsdale Road and Starbeck Avenue.

Newington Road, looking southeast

They have now turned right and are headed southeast on Newington Road (the extension of Starbeck, sort of). I used to walk down this street to go to Morrisons (I now take the bus), and when I return in a taxi it brings me up this way.

Thesis abstract (as finalized)

I should have waited until today before posting the abstract, but I was too excited about it to let it go any longer. Today I had a meeting with my second supervisor, who explained the feedback he had emailed me and told me I didn’t have to stick to 300 words. So here’s the revised version. (I’m leaving the original version up because I did say it was the original version. <smile>)


Exploring Techno-Spirituality:
Design Strategies for Transcendent User Experiences

This thesis presents a study of spiritual and transcendent experiences (STXs) — experiences of connection with something greater than oneself — focusing on what they are, how artefacts support them, and how design can contribute to that support. People often find such experiences transformative, and artefacts do support them — but the literature rarely addresses artefact support for STXs. This thesis provides a step toward filling that gap.

The first phase of research involved the conduct and analysis of 24 interviews with adults of diverse spiritual perspectives, using constructivist Grounded Theory methods informed by relevant literature and by studies performed earlier in the PhD research programme. Analysis found that STXs proceed in three stages — creating the context, living the experience, integrating the experience — and that artefacts support at least two stages and people desire enhancements to all three. This STX framework supports and extends experience structures from the literature: it recognises the top-level categories as stages in a cycle where integration alters future contexts, and it extends the structure of STX by incorporating the relationships of artefacts and of enhancement desires to the stages of these experiences. This extended structure constitutes a grounded theory of transcendent user experiences.

The second phase involved the design and conduct of three “Transcendhance” workshops for enhancing transcendence, which aimed to elicit speculative design ideas in an atmosphere of fun and play. By playing a game that incorporated themes from the grounded theory of transcendent user experiences, workshop participants sketched 69 design ideas for techno-spiritual artefacts. Analysis mapped the ideas to the stages of STX and drew on relevant research to inspire possible extensions to the workshop-generated ideas. By far the largest number of ideas mapped to the STX stage Creating the Context, with very few mapping to Living the Experience, which suggests that context may be easier than lived experience to understand and address directly. This point is especially important for experiences such as STX that are tricky to define, impossible to arrange or anticipate, and thus unsuitable for straight-forward “classic” user experience methods. Transcendhance workshops approach techno-spiritual design peripherally, “sneaking up” on the lived experience by addressing the context.

This thesis combines the grounded theory of transcendent user experience with the Transcendhance workshop process, presenting peripheral design as a promising strategy for facilitating design to enhance spiritual and transcendent experiences.

Thesis abstract (more or less)

My supervisor says it’s OK for me to post my abstract here. What you see below isn’t what actually went into the Assignment of Examiners form, because after I wrote it I learned that the committee that reviews that form is very picky about language, so although there is precedent in my faculty for writing a thesis in the first person, I changed it for the form. (Man, I hate passive voice.) So what I’m posting here is what I originally wrote, before I revised it to use the third person. I may revise and/or expand it a little for the thesis itself, but this accurately conveys the gist.


This thesis presents a study of spiritual and transcendent experiences (STX) — experiences of connection with something greater than oneself — focusing on designing to enhance them. Such experiences can be ineffable and transformative and artefacts can support them, but the literature rarely addresses the connection between artefacts and these experiences. This thesis provides a step toward filling that gap.

I conducted and analysed 24 interviews with adults of diverse spiritual perspectives, using constructivist Grounded Theory methods as informed by relevant literature and by studies conducted earlier in my programme. I found that STX proceed in three stages — creating the context, living the experience, integrating the experience — with artefact support and desires for enhancement applying to all stages. My theory supports and extends experience structures from the literature: it recognises the top-level categories as stages in a cycle where integration alters future contexts, and it adds artefacts and desires to the structure of these experiences.

I designed and conducted “Transcendhance” workshops for enhancing transcendence, employing play to stimulate design ideas. Using themes from the grounded theory, workshop participants sketched 69 ideas for techno-spiritual artefacts. I mapped the ideas to the stages of STX, building a framework to guide techno-spiritual design. Living the Experience and Creating the Context showed a large disparity in mappings, suggesting that context may be easier than lived experience to understand and address directly, especially for ineffable experiences that are tricky to define, impossible to predict, and thus unsuitable for straight-forward “classic” user experience methods. The workshops approach techno-spiritual design peripherally, essentially “sneaking up” on the lived experience by addressing the context. Even fanciful ideas provided insights for techno-spiritual design.

Combining the grounded theory of transcendent user experience with the Transcendhance workshops, I developed peripheral design as a promising strategy for facilitating design to enhance spiritual and transcendent experiences.

Thesis title settled

Throughout my PhD program(me), the title I’ve been using — which I always have to enter on administrative forms — has been “User Experience and the Human Spirit”. That title captures the spirit, the motivation, but gives no information about the content of my research. Today my supervisor and I settled on what I am going to use for the title of my thesis:

Exploring Techno-Spirituality:
Design Strategies for Transcendent User Experiences

I also had to write a 300-word abstract for the purpose of assigning examiners for my thesis. I’ll find out if I can post that here too.

When I find myself thinking that two-days-plus was a very long time to take for only 300 words, I console myself with the famous quasi-quote: “I’m sorry this letter is so long, but I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

A few thoughts about the Brexit vote

As a person from outside the Commonwealth, I didn’t get to vote in the referendum that the UK held this week regarding its membership in the European Union. The referendum, called, variously, “EURef” and “Brexit” (for “British exit”), asked UK voters whether they wanted the country to remain in the EU or to leave it. “Leave” won by just under four percentage points, 51.9% to 48.1%.

It is not my intention to provide here a history of the referendum or a discussion of the political issues surrounding it. If you want to know more about that, I’m afraid you’ll need to google it yourself — or you could look at the BBC’s FAQ.) I just want to share a few thoughts, partly about how it affects me personally and partly about some things I’ve noticed in the aftermath.

Let me begin by saying that I am deeply disturbed by this vote. I would have voted Remain if I had had a vote — I think it benefits all of us to cooperate and collaborate.

How Brexit affects me personally

Residence: Brexit doesn’t have much effect on my immigration status in the near term, since I am not an EU national and have to have a visa to live here anyhow. Right now I’ve got a student visa, and I’ve been planning all along to take steps to get a longer-term visa for when I finish my PhD. So I have no need to worry about Brexit’s effect on that part of my life, at least not any time soon. (Note to the EU nationals among my friends: I will be happy to share with you what I know about work visas, if you decide you want to stay in the UK and if it turns out you will need one. Contact me privately if you would find that helpful.)

Costs: (1) The British pound is down with respect to the US dollar, about 10% down as I write this. Who knows where it will go in the next few years? This decline works to my advantage for now, though: now that my university-funded studentship has ended, all of my income is in USD and will continue to be so until I start working in the UK. So what I spend in the UK costs me less of my income than it did just a few days ago. (2) Probably the “Eurozone” plan I get from my mobile phone provider — which costs £4 for each day I use roaming in European countries, including a fair amount of data — will end. I don’t know what my provider will offer as a replacement, but it will probably cost me more for roaming in EU countries.

Health: The NHS is like an excruciatingly slow HMO (health maintenance organization, a type of healthcare coverage in the US), and it is only going to get slower. (I do use the NHS; see below.) There’s talk of splitting it up and privatizing it, but if all they do is reduce the funding… Shudder!

Opportunities: I suspect that I will have a harder time finding a job with a visa sponsor in the UK. Already there is news about banks moving several hundred jobs from London to Dublin. Not that I was planning to work for a bank, particularly, but it’s a bellwether. (I love the word “bellwether”. Also “harbinger”. :-)

Reactions that worry me

Racism. I’m hearing and reading stories of white Britons harassing and threatening immigrants who have a foreign accent or a different skin color, telling them “Go home; we voted Leave!” It seems as though some of these people took “Leave” to mean, not Britain leaving the EU, but ethnically different immigrants leaving Britain. Racism has come more out in the open, it seems. In fact, The Washington Post reported just this week that the Brexit debate itself has brought racism to the surface in Britain: “Because of the Brexit campaign, racism is no longer racism – it’s legitimate opinion.” Some (although by no means all) of the Leave campaign was about reducing immigration, and many white Britons talked about “getting their country back” as a euphemism for reducing the dilution of their culture by black and brown people coming to live among them.

I am NOT saying that a Leave vote was necessarily a racist vote or even an anti-immigration vote; people had diverse reasons for marking their ballots that way. For one thing, the Leave campaign virtually promised that the £350 million a week that the UK has been paying to the EU would be redirected to the NHS. (They have since rescinded that promise, blackguards that they are.) And I am inclined to agree with the person who tweeted that it’s not so much that half the country is racist as that the racists think they are. But the vote does seem to have been taken as permission to take racist behavior out of homes and back lanes and bring it into the light of day on public buses and High Street pavements. This must stop.

Now, I use NHS services regularly (paying a paltry £150/yr for the privilege), and being over 60 I get prescription medications at no cost. Also, I have a senior bus pass that gives me free travel on any local bus in England after 9:30am on weekdays and all day on weekends, and because Newcastle has good bus service and I don’t own a car I use my pass a fair amount. And as a full-time student I pay no council tax (analogous to property tax in the US).

I’m sure that I cost the UK just a wee bit more than do most of the immigrants that racist and anti-immigrant groups are targeting. But I look like a native. No one has ever accosted me to threaten me or demand that I “go home”.

In fact, until people hear me speak or see me eat with a knife and fork, they tend to assume I’m a native. And as far as I know, all of my ancestry traces back to Great Britain. But it’s been more than 200 years since the last migrant among them sailed west across the Atlantic. I myself am no more a native of Britain than is the Muslim girl that some Birmingham youth harassed on the street, shouting “We voted Leave!” And she doesn’t deserve abuse any more than I do.

Ageism. Much is being made of the differences between how older and younger people voted. According to a YouGov survey taken after the vote, people over 65 voted Leave by a ratio of two to one and people under 24 voted Remain by three to one. It is being said that the older generation is denying the younger generation their future, and all because of a fantasy of returning to the Good Old Days. From anecdotes I’ve heard, I tend to give credence to the idea that there was a lot of nostalgia behind the votes of older people who went for Leave and didn’t bother to find out (and/or didn’t care) how it would affect younger people. What bothers me about what’s being said about the old is twofold: (1) other demographic variables (education and income, in particular) explained more of the difference in the vote than age did, but people are targeting the old as the ones to be disparaged and condemned; and (2) people are using age to target old people in general (see this much-liked and much-retweeted tweet attacking old people), not just the 69% of voters who voted Leave. As far as I know, this has not (yet) turned into physical threats against older people, but I have heard it expressed as a wish that they had not been allowed to vote on this question. I wonder if folks would have expressed such a wish if older people had gone for Remain; it sounds like basing voting rights on outcome rather than principle. The question of the fairness of allowing older people to vote on younger people’s future isn’t a simple one, but one thing I can say for certain: Disparaging older people in general because you don’t like how two-thirds of them voted is ageism, and it’s ugly.

So what am I going to do?

Personal goals. First things first: I will finish my PhD. And I will continue with my pursuit of post-PhD opportunities in the UK. There’s still a lot to like about living here, and as far as I can tell, the overt British racism isn’t any worse than the overt American racism being fuelled by today’s <unprintable> politicians, of whom Donald Trump is the most <unprintable>. Scotland is talking about possibly having another independence referendum and then joing the EU on its own, and I will keep an eye on that. (I wish I thought my Gaelic surname would give me an in. :-)

Post-Brexit racism. I am well aware of my white privilege. My life in the UK is easier than that of immigrants of different culture or ethnicity because of what I look like. Because of this, I have the power — and the responsibility — to let racists know that racist behavior is unacceptable. So far I have not personally witnessed any incidents of people threatening foreigners, but if I do I will speak up. If I feel it isn’t safe for me to confront the perpetrators in person, I will speak out later and help publicize the incident. And I am encouraging my friends to do the same. Hopefully, just as these Tyne and Wear Metro passengers did in Newcastle in November 2015. (Here’s a Guardian article on how people can respond in such situations.)

Ageism. I probably won’t do much about this. I have limited time, and despite what I say about how ugly it is, racism is so much uglier and its effects far worse. People generally don’t hate and attack old people just because they are old.

But that’s enough for now; I’ve already spent more time on this than I had planned and I need to get back to my thesis.

The summer of writing up

On Wednesday I met with my primary supervisor to discuss the draft of my Methodology chapter. In his written comments he described the chapter as “a thorough and meticulous account of your research process with an [enviable] attention to detail and rigor in argument” and “a fantastic first draft”. More specifically, he said, “It provides a very robust defense of the methods chosen and makes a strong case for a coherent and theoretically informed approach. It is well structured, clear about claims and superbly well referenced.”

Whew!

He wanted to see more discussion of a couple of things, he said, and we talked about those. But on the whole that chapter is in great shape and I have agreed to send him the final draft on Tuesday. Day after tomorrow.

I have drafted a timetable for finishing the drafts of all my chapters over the summer, and I’ve got my work cut out for me. Good thing I had already decided to forgo my usual holidays — a week of singing Renaissance polyphony in the East Midlands in July and a couple of weeks in Italy in September. I may take a weekend or two and go somewhere, but basically it’s The Summer of Writing Up.

Wish me focus and persistence!

 

Some thoughts on gearshift design

Gearshift arrangement of the hire car, showing 1/3/5 up and 2/4/R down
Gearshift arrangement for the car I hired
I’ve just turned in a car I hired for the weekend, and the UX part of my mind has, naturally, had some thoughts about its design. These thought are prompted by the trouble I had in downshifting from fifth gear. The arrangement of my hire car (see image) has fifth gear directly opposite reverse, and every time I needed to downshift into fourth I was afraid I would put the car into reverse (in fact, I almost did it once). This car had a weak spring that encouraged the lever toward the middle: when the car was in neutral and I was not touching it, the lever stayed in the middle. But the mechanism wasn’t strong enough to help me keep it from going into reverse when I was trying to downshift from fifth. This of course leads me to conclude that the gearshift is not well designed.

My first thought was that the problem is a poor arrangement of the gears — having reverse opposite fifth is risky because accidentally going into reverse from fifth is far more dangerous than doing it from first. Some cars have reverse in the upper left and first in the lower left, with some sort of mechanism that makes it easy to slide from first to second and difficult to go into reverse; my first new car, a 1976 Datsun F10, had this design. I don’t recall ever accidentally trying to go into reverse with it, but perhaps automakers rarely use this arrangement because first-to-second is a much more common move than fifth-to-fourth.

But then I thought about the cars I’ve owned (all of which have had manual transmission), and the last two (Toyota Corollas both) had reverse in the lower right, opposite fifth, just like this weekend’s hire car. So I’m thinking that the human factors issue may be a matter of which hand and arm are doing the shifting. Moving from fifth to fourth involves pulling back on the lever and moving it to the left. When you’re shifting with your right hand, reverse is away from your body and the more natural movement when pulling back is to pull toward you as well, so the danger of going into reverse from fifth is small. But when you shift with your left hand (which is for me the hardest part of driving in the UK), reverse is closer to your body than any of the other gears and it takes more effort to push the gearshift lever to the left while at the same time pulling it back, so the risk of going into reverse from fifth is much greater and a stronger preventive mechanism is needed. (I wish I had time to make diagrams of these movements.)

Some cars have a ring on the lever, just below the knob, that you have to lift to put the car into reverse; some require you to push down on the lever. Still others have a rather strong spring (or something that behaves like one) that will slide the lever from fifth to fourth when you pull back, unless you maintain substantial rightward pressure to force it into reverse. The strong spring is what my Toyotas had, as I recall, and I’ve driven cars with both of the other mechanisms.

Now, I imagine that people who learned to drive in the UK might not have any problem with the arrangement that my hire car had, as they’ve developed from the beginning the habit of the pull-back-and-push-away-left movement and their muscle memory works in their favor. (Or else they just don’t downshift. But I seriously doubt it’s that.) Nevertheless, this movement is, I maintain, less natural than pulling toward the body on a diagonal, and the gearshift should have something more than a weak(ish) mechanism to guide the lever away from the “reverse” position.

I am not sure whether I favor the ring approach or the push, but in any case the Ford Fiesta’s mechanism is not enough. And it’s not simply because I’m profoundly right-handed.

I’d be interested in hearing from people who work in automotive design, especially those who have experience in human factors of both right-hand-drive and left-hand-drive vehicles. What are your thoughts?


Update: A friend has pointed me to some info that indicates that it’s not possible actually to GO into reverse while the car is moving because reverse gear is not synchronized. So  maybe I have overstated the danger here. However, it could still cause damage to the gears (I did hear a godawful noise when I accidentally tried to do it), and that could be dangerous for one’s pocketbook. Certainly it’s no good for peace of mind.

Update: Wheelchair assistance issue at Global Entry

Early last week I wrote a long post about my first experience of airport wheelchair assistance during my recent trip to the US. The following day I wrote to Bruce P. Heppen, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), as the incident where the wheelchair assistant had inappropriately tried to help me with Global Entry had occurred at Washington Dulles Airport. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Mr. Heppen,

I received wheelchair assistance at IAD after arriving on BA 293 from LHR on the 28th of April. I am writing to alert you of a problem I observed that may indicate the need for additional training of your wheelchair assistants.

When the wheelchair assistant picked me up, I told her I had Global Entry, and she seemed to know what that was. We got there and she wheeled me up to the kiosk. Two or three times while I was using it the assistant tried to tell me what to click. The second time it happened, I assured her I was very familiar with how to use Global Entry, but I’m not sure she believed me. The third time, she did it while I was thinking about whether what was displayed was correct (I decided it was), but evidently she thought I was confused, and when she said “Click ‘Next'” I lost my patience and said “Don’t rush me!”

It later occurred to me that her behavior was highly inappropriate. Wheelchair assistants have absolutely no business watching what travellers do with Global Entry, let alone trying to help — it’s a matter of both traveller privacy and national security. If the CBP personnel monitoring the area sense that a traveller needs help, they will offer their assistance. CBP is authorized to do so, wheelchair assistants are not.

I hope you will take steps to address this urgent matter without delay.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours,

Elizabeth Buie

Mr. Heppen replied very quickly, apologizing on behalf of MWAA but saying that under Federal law it’s the airline’s responsibility to provide wheelchair assistance and the airlines have subcontractors for this service at each airport.

Now, I have no clue how individual airlines could be responsible for hiring their own wheelchair service providers, and I really thought it was the service provider that needed to be providing the training. But he said he would pass it along to BA, so I waited.

Tonight I heard from British Airways. They completely misunderstood my complaint — they apologized for the behavior of the wheelchair handler, and they got her to apologize too. I will grant them an attempt at empathy — they said they understood “how upsetting this must have been” for me — but even this statement misunderstood the issue. BA got in touch with Air Serv Corporation, the service provider, who had the assistant’s manager talk to her, and they all relayed to me an apology from the assistant, who “was just trying to help” but “now understands she overstepped her boundaries” in assisting me with Global Entry. BA told me that if I didn’t feel the matter had been resolved I could file a formal complaint with the US Department of Transportation. BA told me that according to my account her behavior

…did not comply with US Department of Transportation § 382.141 which states (a) As a carrier that operates aircraft with 19 or more passenger seats, you must provide training, meeting the requirements of this paragraph, for all personnel who deal with the traveling public, as appropriate to the duties of each employee. (2) You must also train such employees with respect to awareness and appropriate responses to passengers with a disability, including persons with physical, sensory, mental, and emotional disabilities, including how to distinguish among the differing abilities of individuals with a disability.

Hmmm… The regulation says that the carrier must train all staff in how to treat people with disabilities, but it says nothing about a requirement to train them in how they should behave while a traveller is using Global Entry.

Admittedly, I did not convey to Mr. Heppen that I thought the responsibility belonged with the assistant’s employer, who had failed to provide adequate training for her regarding this area of assistance. And I really didn’t mean to get the assistant in trouble! I suspect it had never occurred to her that she should not even be watching me use Global Entry, let alone helping me with it, and I don’t blame her in any way for not being aware of the privacy and security issues. The only thing I fault her for is intruding into something that was none of her business, but that pales in comparison to Air Serv’s failure to train her properly.

So here’s what I sent to British Airways in response to their email:

Dear Ms. Altadonna,Thank you again for your substantial email. I see that my concern has been misunderstood, so I am writing to I clear things up.

Wheelchair assistants cannot be blamed for trying to help when they have not received adequate training in their duties regarding how to behave when someone they are assisting uses the Global Entry kiosk. “Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.” (from http://www.globalentry.gov) I feel fairly confident that most wheelchair assistants have not been pre-approved as low-risk travelers and thus I maintain that they should never see, let alone influence, what a traveler enters into the kiosk. If they sense that a traveler needs assistance with Global Entry, they should summon a CBP official to provide it.

Yes, the wheelchair assistant made an incorrect assumption about my abilities. (I admit I was tempted to tell her I had arthritis and not dementia.) But her assumption was not the real issue, and the burden of apology does not fall on her. That burden falls on Air Serv Corporation for failing to provide their staff with adequate training. I really do not want an apology, however; I want a change in behavior, a change in the system. I want an acknowledgment from Air Serv that they have the responsibility to ensure adequate training in this area; I want a commitment from them to provide it. This sort of behavior compromises not only traveler privacy and autonomy, but US national security.

I do wish to file a complaint, but against Air Serv Corporation, not against the assistant. Please let me know how I can do that.

FYI: I have reported this incident to CBP.

Please see my blog post about my wheelchair assistance experience: https://leisurelyseekingdoctorate.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/airport-wheelchair-assistance-a-first-experience/
I am about to post an update.

Your cabin crews were all marvellous, by the way. Nobody patronized me, and they all provided exactly the help I needed when I asked for it.

Yours,
Elizabeth Buie

The “update” I mention at the end of my letter to BA is the one you are reading right now. Stay tuned.


Note to Air Serv: Your website is dreadful. And have you noticed that your logo and typeface look eerily like Global Entry’s? Hmmm…

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