Well, our old friends at Ryanair are in the news again, once again regarding their treatment of a disabled passenger. Like that’s a big surprise!!
And as horrible as this whole incident sounds; after reading the law, I realized that this time it may not (legally) be Ryanair’s fault. Granted they still should have shown a little compassion, but that’s another issue entirely.
The incident in question occurred when Paul Heath and his wheelchair-using wife Jo, tried to board a Ryanair flight in Luton, UK. As is the case at many smaller airports throughout Europe, this flight boarded from the tarmac, and an ambu-lift was needed to board Mrs. Heath.
When boarding time came, the lift was not available, even though the Heath’s informed Ryanair that they needed one when they made their reservation. When it became apparent that the lift would not be avaialble by departure time, Ryanair informed the Heaths that if Jo couldn’t make it up the steps on her own, she would be left at Luton.
Seeing as the next flight to France was in three days, Paul took matters into his own hands and carried his wife up the stairs. In hindsight, the couple both agree it was a dangerous move, but they also feel they had no choice in the matter.
So who is at fault here?
Well, under the new EU PRM rules, the airport managing body (not the airline) is responsible for helping disabled passengers board the aircraft via a lift. So it’s the folks at Luton airport who are ultimately responsible here. And although it pains me to say it, it appears that legally Ryanair is off the hook this time.
But like I said, it wouldn’t have hurt Ryanair employees to show a little compassion. Here in the US, the ACAA states that employees are never required to hand carry passengers aboard a flight. Still, they do it all the time (voluntarily) when no other options exists.
Anyway, I’m sorry to hear of the Heath’s ordeal, and in a way I agree with what Paul did. Under the circumstances he really didn’t have much of a choice if he wanted to get to France in a timely manner. And the Luton airport let them down, and they should be held accountable.
But hey, I still have problems with the snippy folks at Ryanair!! They have a real attitude about disabled passengers. Unfortunately you can’t legislate attitude. On the other hand, you can “vote with your pocketbook” and only give your business to companies that show a little compassion and respect.
And Ryanair doens’t make the cut at all! Not by a long shot!