A man was forced to carry his disabled wife on to a plane in a fireman’s lift or let it leave without them, he said today.
Paul Heath, 53, was left with no choice when a special lift failed to turn up to help his wife Jo on to a Ryanair flight.
He had to carry the 53-year-old Multiple Sclerosis sufferer on to the Ryanair flight so they could go on holiday.
If he had not carried her himself the couple were told they would have to miss the flight, Mr Heath said today.
He said Ryanair’s policy to leave without disabled passengers if they could not get on the flight was unfair.
Mr Heath, from Milton Maser, near Northamptonshire in England, said that despite pre-warning the airline they would need help getting onto the Luton to Brest flight last month, the ’ambulant’ did not arrive.
He said no back-up option was available and staff refused to help because of health and safety risks.
He said: “It’s a standard procedure that we’re familiar with. You phone up and tell them what you need, and then confirm it all and the reasons why you need help.
“We’ve done it before with Ryanair. It’s always a bit rickety and a bit of a panic with nobody sure about what’s going on but it’s always turned out okay in the end.”
But Mr Heath said this time the lift had not turned up, and when he asked ground staff what to do, they suggested he could carry his wife on to the plane.
He said he was told they could not help him because of health and safety rules.
He said: “I ended up giving her a fireman’s lift myself up the stairs and on to the plane. On the flight we confirmed with the staff that Ryanair’s policy is to leave people if they can’t get on the plane.
“They don’t have any back up. Even at some of the smaller airports in Europe they have small folding chairs that they can carry you off on.
“If I had been older or weaker we wouldn’t have been going anywhere. Basically if you’re disabled you don’t get the same rights to board as if you are able-bodied. That’s my concern.
“Even if the bloke had just been late with the lift, they could leave without us through no fault of our own.
“My wife had to suffer the indignity of being carried on to the plane. MS is affected by stress and she is not a very keen flier anyway. It’s bad enough at the best of times when you look as though you’re keeping the flight waiting.”
Mr Heath said when he emailed Ryanair they had apologised for the problem, and blamed it on provider Servicer.
He added: “But they haven’t answered my problem that the policy is to go without my wife. I know budget airlines have problems and I accept that but 180 people were on that plane and we weren’t, and my view is it was because my wife was disabled and they make no provisions.”
A spokesman for Ryanair said: “Wheelchair assistance in Luton Airport is provided by a third party.
“Despite having been provided with a full report from Ryanair listing all assistance requirements for that day, the provider failed to have sufficient staff available to provide the service.
“Ryanair is pursuing this matter with the third party to ensure that this does not happen again.”