An 86-year-old woman has been left with a broken arm after she was knocked to the ground by another passenger at Dublin Airport, having been told “no wheelchairs were available” when she landed.
That is despite having pre-booked special assistance for the airport.
The Cork-based woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, was travelling back from Dusseldorf, Germany, with her husband, who is 88, after visiting their daughter who is living there.
Now, her family is worried that she will “never want to fly again” after the “traumatic” experience.
Dr Eemer Eivers, the woman’s daughter-in-law and a senior research fellow at Dublin College University, says that her parents-in-law were told by ground staff that “there were no wheelchairs available at the time, and that six people on the flight were booked in for special assistance,” when they landed at just after 12.30pm on Tuesday.
“Staff told them that they didn’t know when wheelchairs would become available in the airport as things were very busy, but that it would only be a six-minute walk to passport control, so they decided to walk the distance because they knew their grandson was waiting to drive them back to Cork," she said.
“The airport was busy and people were rushing to catch their flights, and one woman who was running through the airport knocked down my mother-in-law on a travelator by accident, much to her horror.
"My parents-in-law were told they would likely be waiting for hours in an emergency department in Dublin, so their grandson drove them to Cork so his grandmother could get medical attention.”
Dr Eivers said that after two x-rays in the Cork SwiftCare clinic her mother-in-law had a cast fitted as her arm was broken, and she is now going to have to visit a surgeon.
"At 88 and 86, they shouldn’t have felt that they needed to walk to passport control, through a very busy airport, because they didn’t want other passengers on the plane — including one elderly woman who was on crutches — to be left sitting on the runway waiting on a wheelchair.
"We are worried that she will not want to travel through an airport again, and we think that this should be highlighted, as elderly and disabled passengers should be able to travel, and know that their needs will be catered to,”
The Cork-based couple initially pre-booked for special assistance, including the use of a wheelchair, via Aer Lingus, the airline that they flew with.
A spokesperson for Aer Lingus said: “When a customer requests wheelchair assistance, Aer Lingus notifies departure and arrival airports to arrange contracted assistance providers. They are responsible for providing necessary support to our customers."
A spokesperson for Dublin Airport Authority said: “DAA cannot comment on individual incidents which take place in any of the airports we operate, as we have a duty to protect the confidentiality of all passengers who engage directly with our ambulance personnel, airport police emergency first responders, and other staff who administer first aid as a result of any medical incident or accident at the airport.
"Where further medical attention is required, and the passenger agrees to such help, our trained professionals will always assist passengers by calling for such assistance."