By Laura Kemp • 05 November 2021 • 14:28
Man on Ryanairflight to Malaga kicked off plane for wheelchair being "too heavy". image: Wikipedia
Brandon Aughton, 24, from Nottingham, suffers from cerebral palsy and was kicked off his Ryanair flight to Malaga when handlers said his wheelchair was “too heavy.”
Brandon was due to fly from East Midlands Airport to Malaga with his carer last month when he was removed from the plane.
Baggage handlers said they could not lift his specially adapted 595lbs wheelchair onto the conveyor belt and into the hold because it was “too heavy,” causing both passengers to be removed from the flight by the pilot.
Brandon said: “I’ve flown twice like that before and never had any issues. I was angry.”
Brandon’s carer, Orla, 41, who works for carer company Right at Home said: “Brandon got really upset at one point – it felt like no-one wanted to help us.”
“It was Swissport’s responsibility to put the wheelchair on the plane and tell the ground crew that it needs to go on the plane, but they didn’t do it and there wasn’t any equipment to lift it as it’s a 270kg [595lbs] chair.”
“There were four of them there saying they could not lift it because of health and safety and they unceremoniously booted us off the flight even though we had the letter from Ryanair to say the chair was not too heavy and it could be taken.”
“The lady from Swissport said we gave them wrong information, but we told them they had the information as Ryanair said it was all fine.”
“When we were going through customs, I was told I had a dangerous item in my bag, but it was an allen key to take apart Brandon’s chair, so I queried this and was told I would be let through this time, but don’t let it happen again.”
The pair were due to fly with Ryanair to Malaga on October 12 for a holiday after Brandon had been shielding for two years because of the health pandemic, however, he had to make do with a manual wheelchair which isn’t suitable for his needs.
Orla said taking the sub-standard chair was like “someone taking his legs away from him” and described it as a “distressing” experience.
Brandon still missed out on 48 hours of his holiday.
Orla said: “Brandon still wanted to go on holiday and a disability holiday agency managed to get flights for us the next day, but we had to take a manual wheelchair – which is completely unacceptable for Brandon’s needs.”
“He didn’t have his mobility and it’s like taking someone’s legs away from them – it was quite distressing.”
“My main purpose was to get Brandon on holiday and I was unforgiving towards some people at times, but we wouldn’t have got anywhere quickly otherwise.”
A spokesperson for Swissport said: “We are saddened to hear the customer’s claims about an incident at East Midlands Airport.”
“We take our responsibilities towards disabled passengers extremely seriously and understand how important it is that travel for all passengers runs smoothly.”
An East Midlands Airport spokesperson added: “We were sorry to learn of the circumstances in which Brandon’s wheelchair was considered too heavy to be loaded onto the aircraft.”
“Having supported Brandon and his companion to the aircraft in one of our specially-adapted vehicles, we were made aware of the handling agent’s decision not to accept his wheelchair.”
“’When a solution could not be found, we escorted him back to the terminal and we understand he was able to re-book a flight the following day.”
“We pride ourselves in the quality of support we offer all customers who need support at the airport. At its last assessment, the Civil Aviation Authority rated our accessibility services “Very Good”, which is the highest possible rating.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “We liaised with this customer directly and this has been resolved.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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