June 23, 2004
Alan Weston And Nick Mills
Liverpool Daily Post
A wheelchair-bound traveller was stopped from boarding a flight at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport because of his disability.
Multiple sclerosis sufferer Gary Harvey and his wife Carol were refused entry on the Ryanair flight to Spain - and told to return the next day and pay £80 extra.
Ryanair said they could not take Mr Harvey, 45, or his wife on the 8pm flight on Monday because they had to be told in advance of anyone travelling with special requirements. But Mrs Harvey, 47, a care nurse from Skelmersdale, West Lancs, said she had informed her tour operator when she booked the holiday in February that her husband was disabled.
Yesterday, her Ipswich-based tour operator confirmed the couple had informed Ryanair of Mr Harvey's disability when they took her booking.
Mrs Harvey said: "Our holiday has been ruined.
"The first thing I said when I booked this holiday in February was that my husband was disabled. I also rang four times to confirm that we would need help and assistance at the airport.
"But when we arrived at the airport we were told we could not board the plane because they had no record of us needing wheelchair assistance.
"I was told they could book us on the next night's flight, but it would cost an extra £80. I am absolutely gutted that an airline is not wheelchair-friendly. I think people should know this is the way the airline operates."
Liverpool JLA spokesman Robin Tudor said transfers of disabled people on to aircraft were carried by the airport's own contractors, Securicor, but that once on the aircraft they were the responsibility of the operator.
He said: "It's a Ryanair policy that, unless they are forewarned of a passenger's special needs, they won't accept them to travel on board the aircraft. The lady claims she has done that, but the message hasn't got through to Ryanair. There has obviously been a breakdown of communication somewhere."
The couple finally set off on their holiday to the Costa Brava last
night having been forced to return home on Monday when they were refused
a place on their original flight. Ryanair's chief operating officer, Michael
Cawley, last night told the Daily Post: "The couple really need to speak
with their travel agent."
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