Man kicked off flight due to heavy wheelchair.
A Nottingham man with cerebral palsy was left ‘angry’ after being told by Swissport staff he would not be allowed to fly because of the weight of his wheelchair.
Brandon Aughton was due to set off from East Midlands Airport on a Ryanair flight for a vacation in Malaga, Spain with his carer.
After boarding the plane, Swissport – the airport’s ground handling services company – told the pair that Aughton’s wheelchair was too heavy to be carried down to the cargo hold.
Aughton presented a letter from Ryanair to say the chair was not too heavy and it could be taken, however, Swissport still declined to help. They were both escorted off the plane.
The carer, Orla Hennessy, spoke of her outrage saying Aughton has flown twice before and never had any problems.
“It was Swissport’s responsibility to put the wheelchair on the plane and tell the ground crew that it needs to go on the plane but they didn’t do it and there wasn’t any equipment to lift it as it’s a 270kg chair,” she said.
“There were four of them there saying they could not lift it because of health and safety and they unceremoniously booted us off the flight even though we had the letter from Ryanair to say the chair was not too heavy and it could be taken.
“The lady from Swissport said we gave them wrong information, but we told them they had the information as Ryanair said it was all fine.
“When we were going through customs, I was told I had a dangerous item in my bag, but it was an Allen key to take apart Brandon’s chair, so I queried this and was told I would be let through this time, but don’t let it happen again.”
Aughton and Hennessy were contacted by a disabled vacation agency who provided a manual wheelchair for a flight the next day.
Although Hennessey described the replacement wheelchair as “completely unsuitable for Brandon’s needs,” they decided to take it as it was their first vacation in two years.
In a statement, an East Midlands Airport spokesperson said: “We were sorry to learn of the circumstances in which Brandon’s wheelchair was considered too heavy to be loaded onto the aircraft.
“Having supported Brandon and his companion to the aircraft in one of our specially-adapted vehicles, we were made aware of the handling agent’s decision not to accept his wheelchair. When a solution could not be found, we escorted him back to the terminal and we understand he was able to re-book a flight the following day.
“We regularly review and assess all procedures and services – whether they are the direct responsibility of the airport or those which are delivered by the airlines and handling agents that operate from East Midlands. This is to ensure that passengers receive the highest standards of customer service at all stages in their journey through the airport.
“We pride ourselves in the quality of support we offer all customers who need support at the airport. At its last assessment, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rated EMA’s accessibility services ‘Very Good’, which is the highest possible rating. Airports rated ‘Very Good’ are those that provide a consistent and high-quality assistance service.”