A woman with a disability has spoken out about feeling “hurt and humiliated” after special assistance was slow or non-existent at two separate UK airports, either side of a flight. hers.
Suzanne Croft, a wheelchair user with muscular dystrophy, was flying from Newcastle International to London Heathrow on Thursday, June 9 when she said airport support staff were slow to arrive and help her get on and off plane.
Ms Croft said other passengers were allowed to board but it took more than an hour for the concierge to assist her on board and her wheelchair to be loaded into the cabin – meaning a British Airways flight Hers was delayed a total of 90 minutes.
“I felt very embarrassed and it caused me a lot of trauma,” she said ChronicleLive.
“The rest of the passengers had been on board for a long time and had been given snacks and water – and they didn’t look very happy.
“As someone in a wheelchair, it was humiliating to be loaded onto an airplane and into my seat in front of everyone. I feel very upset and guilty as the cause of the one-hour delay in departures, as well as further delays on subsequent flights.”
Newcastle Airport confirmed its special support team arrived to pick up Ms Croft as soon as they were informed by Swissport that the flight was ready for her.
However, when her flight landed at Heathrow Airport, Croft said she had to wait again – along with her husband and airline staff who eventually had to help get off the plane.
After the other passengers had departed, she said, “the crew and captain of the next flight were on board and both captains communicated with radios for special assistance, but no who has.
“In the end, my husband, 66, had to lift me out of the seat, with the help of the new crew, and they had to put me in a folding chair in the aisle that didn’t have seat belts.
“My husband held me while a kind crew member on the next flight pushed me to the arrival lounge.”
She added: “There’s no waiting, I’m used to that. It is discontent and humiliation.
“It’s just not good enough. I don’t want the flight attendants and the captain to get in trouble, they are very helpful and kind. The captain even brought our luggage to the taxi.
“I know the paramedics are doing the best job they can. Just don’t have enough concierge staff and equipment, that’s the problem. ”
Ms Croft now says she fears future flights, saying “I never want to fly again”. She traveled to Newcastle to participate in important clinical studies taking place at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
She and Muscular Dystrophy UK are calling on the government and the airline industry to take action to prevent this scenario from happening again in the future and to ensure passengers with disabilities receive the legal support they are entitled to.
Newcastle International apologized for Ms Croft’s experience, but said the delay was due to “an issue unrelated to the airport”, adding that the special support team was fully operational and all equipment was available at the time.
A spokesperson said: “We take the mobility-impaired passenger experience extremely seriously and work closely with disability groups to ensure we continue to provide a comprehensive and reliable service. the reliability that our passengers deserve.
“In the latest CAA independent review of our Support offering, the Airport was ranked in the top category, ‘Very Good’, with subsequent reviews highly commendable for service level. be provided.
“On the day Mrs. Croft flew to London, the team was fully staffed and all equipment available. Due to non-airport issues, passengers boarded the plane later than planned and on short notice. As soon as the Passenger Support Team was informed that the plane had boarded, Mrs. Croft was taken to the gate.
“We are sorry to hear that boarding the plane after other passengers has caused embarrassment to Mrs. Croft. We would like to reassure passengers with reduced mobility during that year that the Support Team has handled over 10,000 passengers and the response to the service provided has been overwhelmingly positive. ”
A Heathrow Airport spokesman said: “We deeply regret the delay Ms Croft experienced last week and we are investigating the incident. All organizations across the airport are getting ready to meet the strong summer demand and are working hard to ensure everyone passing through the airport can enjoy a smooth passenger experience. ”
The Independent British Airways has been contacted for comment.