easyJet Strands Wheelchair-user in Lourdes

Philip McLoughlin is an old hand at travel; in fact he visits Lourdes 4-5 times a year. And each of those trips requires a flight from his home in the UK. Up until now, Phillip, who has CP, hasn’t had any major glitches. But then again, he never flew on easyJet either. Suffice it to say that this trip wasn’t exactly easy for Phillip.

Even though Phillip traveled unaccompanied to Toulouse without incident on easyJet; when it came time for the return trip he was denied boarding. Why? Well according to Phillip, the gate agent told him that easyJet “does not accept disabled travelers on their own.”

Hmmmm. That’s not exactly what the law says. In fact, the European Union Passengers with Reduced Mobility (EU PRM) regs specifically prohibit the refusal of transport of disabled passengers solely because of their lack of mobility. Additionally, the law requires the airlines to determine passenger eligibility before a ticket is issued.

OK, maybe I can see someone not asking about the extent of Phillip’s disability during the reservation process, or even misunderstanding his response; however, I don’t see how he could be allowed to fly to France, yet not return. It just doesn’t make sense.

According to easyJet, all passengers have to be able to evacuate the aircraft within 90 seconds; and presumably a wheelchair-user traveling alone is not able to do this. So I expect they are claiming that the denied boarding is due to a safety regulation prescribed by law; which is an acceptable exemption under the EU PRM.

Still, they let him travel to France. Which really bothers me. I expect their employees need more customer service training.

As for Phillip, well he got an extend stay in Lourdes and easyJet covered his expenses for his return trip on another carrier. Oddly enough, even though all EU-based carriers are covered under the EU PRM, some apparently don’t have easyJet’s 90-second rule.

So add easyJet to your no-fly list if mobility is an issue for you. Don’t worry though, you have a lot of other choices. So give your hard earned travel dollars to the carriers that really want your business — a list that obviously doesn’t include easyJet.