Airports Are Failing Disabled Passengers, And We Are Tired Of It


Air Travel


By Elizabeth Wright in The Guardian.


Returning from Rome after a holiday, my plane taxied to its stand and I waited for all the more ambulatory passengers to disembark. I had wheelchair assistance booked – a much-needed service for someone who, like me, struggles to walk long distances – and the drill was that the disabled had to be last off.

Once the other passengers disappeared, I made my way to the front of the plane to wait for the wheelchairs, along with three other people requiring assistance. We waited, and waited, and waited. The flight attendants were waiting with us. The pilots appeared, ready to head home, and were told that wheelchair passengers were still on the plane, their smiles sliding into frowns. After a few more minutes the pilot apologised to us all and said he would call the terminal to see what the hold-up was.

It had been an hour since the last of the able-bodied passengers had left. Apparently there was a group of employees with wheelchairs at the neighbouring gate, who were waiting for a plane that was over half an hour late, and so could not come to get us. An hour and a half after landing we finally got our wheelchair assistance – even then, there were only two employees for the four of us. Fortunately two of the people requiring assistance had a companion who could push them.


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