MALAGA – A flight from England to Spain ended in great disappointment for one man. Brandon Aughton is disabled and needs a wheelchair. But that wheelchair was not allowed on the plane because of its weight. Therefore, the 24-year-old was kicked off the plane, the Daily Mail reported.
The man from the English city of Nottingham, together with his carer, Orla Hennessey (41), were to fly from East Midlands Airport to Malaga with Ryanair. But the flight left without Aughton, who has cerebral palsy. Because his 270-pound wheelchair was too heavy and could not be loaded into the hold.
After the couple was already on the plane, Swissport – an airport ground handling services company – came to this conclusion. Consequently, the pilot personally came to tell Aughton and Hennessey to disembark.
Aughton was angry and sad. He had flown twice before and never had any problems. “Brandon became upset. It felt like nobody wanted to help us,” Hennessey told the Daily Mail. “It was Swissport’s responsibility to put the wheelchair on the plane. But the right equipment was not available.”
She continues: “Four employees told us they were unable to lift it due to their health and safety. They kicked us out of the plane without mercy, even though we had a letter from Ryanair saying that the seat was not too heavy and could be taken.”
Swissport responded by claiming they were misinformed.
Aughton and Hennessey were finally able to fly Ryanair to Malaga late in the evening on Tuesday, October 12 for their first holiday in two years. But Brando had to make do with a lighter wheelchair that is actually not suitable at all. This was like having his legs taken off for him, Hennessey says.
She continues: “Brandon still wanted to go on vacation and a holiday agency for the disabled managed to arrange flights for us the next day, but we had to bring a manual wheelchair. This one is completely unsuited to Brandon’s needs.”
A Swissport spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “We are saddened to hear this customer’s allegations. We take our responsibility towards disabled passengers very seriously and understand the importance of smooth travel for all passengers.”
An East Midlands Airport spokesperson added: “We are sorry to learn that Brandon’s wheelchair was deemed too heavy. After escorting Brandon and his companion off the plane, we were informed of the decision not to accept his wheelchair. We understand that he could book a flight the next day.”
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “We have contacted this customer directly and the situation has been resolved.”