A woman claims that she was left behind at the airport despite arriving at her boarding gate an hour before the flight. As a wheelchair user, she required the assistance of staff to get onto the plane – but they left her waiting until it was “too late”.
Joanne Vasey, 38, was told to arrive at the special assistance point at 5.20am ahead of her 6am flight to Dublin on Friday, August 4. As a wheelchair user Joanne had made sure to book the service ahead of time – she was keen for things to go smoothly as the trip was for her nephew’s birthday.
The holidaymaker didn’t sit quietly as staff and tourists boarded the plane and made her presence known to the staff. But, she claims she was left waiting in the terminal until minutes before take off, reports Liverpool Echo.
READ MORE: Family faces 'holiday nightmare' after being told flight 'doesn't exist' on £6k trip
Then, the nightmare continued as she was reportedly told that it was now “too late” for her to board. As a result, Joanne was not able to take her flight to Dublin.
She said: "We were told to go to the gate and someone would be there to help me on. We waited, and the lady came over and said the assistant would be with us soon. We stayed there, and we could see them boarding people on through the gate.
"We were still inside the terminal on the other side of the gate. The assistant came then and she said don't worry, the plane will wait for you, they can't go without you. She said she was the only one working and she had to board people on the plane and had been running around everywhere.
"She took us down to another door to go onto the runway to board the plane, and we were waiting for the ambulift. We could see the lift going to the plane. (The assistant) was on a radio and the next minute she said they're not letting you on the plane.
"When we spoke to somebody else on the desk they said because the ambulift was late to the plane, the pilot had refused it."
She and her nephew were forced to cancel their plans as she said airport staff offered them an alternative flight in the afternoon, which would have given them just a few hours together in the city. She was also offered a flight from Manchester Airport – but would need to pay herself for transport and another plane ticket which would be paid back to her later.
She said: "If I was able-bodied, this wouldn't have happened. It wasn't our fault we missed the flight – we were there on time. You're conscious of being in a wheelchair, and when something like this happens, it puts you off doing anything. You ask yourself if you would trust them again. I'm annoyed and I'm hurt.
"I don't really use public transport. Even when it comes to trains I won't go on my own because there might not be a guard to help you. You don't like to go places alone in case something happens. But you should be able to travel on your own.
"There's a lack of care for people with disabilities. You're just left until the end – and then it's 'no, you can't get on'. We literally watched the plane take off as they took us back around."
A spokesperson for Ryanair told Daily Star: "It is unacceptable that special assistance at Liverpool Airport was not provided for this passenger.
"Liverpool Airport have failed to provide special assistance services booked by this passenger for their flight from Liverpool to Dublin (4 Aug) despite Ryanair paying for this service and as a result, this passenger missed their flight.
"It is abysmal that Ryanair customers requiring special assistance are being let down by Liverpool Airport and we are working with them to ensure that this does not recur."
A spokesman for ABM airport management services, passenger service provider at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said: "We understand the importance of the special assistance service we provide passengers at Liverpool Airport. We regret that on this occasion, Ms Vasey's experience did not meet that standard.
"As such, our team has made every effort to support and compensate Ms Vasey. This includes rebooking her flight at ABM's expense and organising her special assistance, as well as offering to reimburse the cost of her missed tour. We are grateful to Ms Vasey for her positive feedback on how the team has handled an unfortunate situation and how we can learn from it."
Liverpool Airport was contacted for additional comment.
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