Kathleen Dunne and her son Gary were left “shaking and humiliated” after they were told they had to leave a Ryanair flight or leave her son’s wheelchair behind.
They were set to fly from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on Tuesday when they were told they would have to leave the flight as airport employees were struggling to fold Gary’s chair.
Kathleen was told by staff at John Lennon Airport that rules and regulations surrounding the stowing of wheelchairs had changed – and she accepts that she did not have the manual for the chair or now how to fold it, but as a frequent flyer it had never before been an issue.
The pair were then booked out on the next available flight, which was leaving from Manchester Airport the next day as Gary – who is deaf and requires a wheelchair after a bout of measles as a child – requires his chair to get around.
The problems did not stop there, however, and Kathleen was taken down to the hold by a member of staff who was once again struggling to get Gary’s chair on the plane. He told her that he would get the wheelchair in “one way or another,” but Kathleen was shocked to hear the pilot announce over the intercom that he was “sorry for the delay,” and it was “not our problem, it is the problem of the lady with the wheelchair,” she told the Birmingham Mail.
A spokesperson from Ryanair told the Birmingham mail that wheelchair services are outsourced to other companies at both airports “at great expense to the airlines.”
One of those companies, OmniServ, who provide the service at Liverpool Airport, told the Mail: “On behalf of the entire Liverpool John Lennon Airport team, we apologise for the inconveniences Kathleen Dunne and her son experienced.
“Various members of the team worked tirelessly with Ms Dunne to ascertain if the wheelchair could be collapsed to meet the requirements.
“Unfortunately, she did not believe it could be collapsed and did not have a manual, so they had to be taken off the flight. After additional trial and error, the team was able to remove a pin and collapse the wheelchair.
“Ms Dunne, her son and the wheelchair were able to take a later flight out. While OmniServ does not create policies around wheelchairs onboard flights, we endeavour to work closely with the airport, airlines and other service providers to ensure a seamless service to all passengers, including those with a disability or reduced mobility.”
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