24-year-old Brandon Aughton was forced to board another flight a day later using a manual wheelchair.
Brandon Aughton, aged 24, was traveling from East Midlands Airport in England to Malaga, Spain, on October 11. However, en route, the young man was informed he could not board the Ryanair plane as staff members were unable to lift his specialist chair, which weighs about 217 kilograms (that is 417 pounds), from the conveyor belt and the hold. Aughton, who has cerebral palsy, said he was "really upset" because of the situation. Despite being able to fly on Ryanair flights twice before with his electric wheelchair, he managed to fly the following day with a manual wheelchair, BBC News reports.
Brandon Aughton is told his wheelchair is too heavy for a Ryanair flight to Malaga https://t.co/COmTkIEmjX— BBC East Midlands (@bbcemt) November 9, 2021
The 24-year-old shared, "I got really upset because I have been shielding for two years." Swissport, the company that handles Ryanair's baggage, claimed it was "saddened" by the incident. Aughton was about to board the flight when he was told his electric wheelchair was too heavy. The pilot subsequently confirmed he would not be permitted on the flight, noting that he would have to get a later service. The terrible incident took place even though Aughton had written to the pilot in advance to ask him if the chair would be acceptable to take on board the aircraft.
Man kicked off Ryanair flight after 595lbs wheelchair was 'too heavy'— Bob For A Full Brexit (@boblister_poole) November 5, 2021
The young man managed to board another flight to his destination the next day, although he was forced to use a manual wheelchair. He said, "I didn't understand why this time they didn't accept it." To make matters worse, he and his carer Orla Hennessy were "spoken to terribly" by a security officer before arriving at the gates, she added. "Brandon had his bag pulled to be searched, and when we went up to the customs desk she took one look at Brandon and said 'I'm not talking to him, I'll talk to you,'" the carer explained. "She proceeded to chastise me for having allen keys in the bag, which you need to take the wheelchair apart, and you have to take the wheelchair apart before you go on the [plane]."
I used to travel once a month for work. One year I tracked it and out of 12 trips, my wheelchair was damaged by the airline 6 times. So basically 50/50 odds. Both domestic and international trips, many different airlines.— Jason Dorwart, Ph.D. (@HamOnWheels) November 6, 2021
While Hennessy praised ground staff at the airport for their assistance, she stated that there were further problems when trying to get the wheelchair onto the plane. She said, "[Staff] said that the conveyor belt wasn't long enough to put the wheelchair on, and that they couldn't lift it over the gap between the conveyor belt and the hold. By the time they had all stood round we were basically told Brandon's not going on his holiday. We came back into the terminal, the lady from Swissport was trying to blame us, she said we hadn't given them the correct information, but three different departments had the same information that we'd given."
We’re glad to be working toward a safer and more comfortable flight experience for people who use wheelchairs! https://t.co/CQkWWvSQDw— Sunrise Medical (@SunriseMedical) November 4, 2021
A spokesman for Swissport has since released a statement: "We take our responsibilities towards disabled passengers extremely seriously and understand how important it is that travel for all passengers runs smoothly." "We were sorry to learn of the circumstances in which Brandon's wheelchair was considered too heavy to be loaded onto the aircraft," East Midlands Airport added in a separate statement. "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." Ryanair is yet to comment.
On average, airlines damage or destroy 29 wheelchairs a day customers check-in as cargo during their flights. Here's a TRAGIC story of a destroyed wheelchair & United Airlines fight that cost Engracia Figueroa her life. Please sign the petition & sharehttps://t.co/lfYmTNmSSJ— Helen Armstrong (@HelenArmstrong5) November 7, 2021
Nonetheless, according to Hennessy, Aughton is yet to receive a direct apology from Ryanair, Swissport, or East Midlands Airport. Furthermore, a spokesman for Right at Home, the company that employs Hennessy, affirmed it was "disappointed and saddened by the unfair treatment." They reaffirmed, "People living with disabilities should not face such barriers to their day-to-day independence."
Flying when you're unable to walk on and a off an airplane is a monumental undertaking...and a little humiliating. Not to mention the trouble with Nature calling at 30,000 feet...— Matthew B. Johnson (@PalladiumKnight) November 3, 2021
If you need a goof laugh today, give this a read lol.#medium #disability https://t.co/yyNXq04Hpf