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I booked the trip of a lifetime to Lapland with family and friends for December last year, but due to the incompetence of the disabled assistance at the airport, we missed our flight. My daughter is severely disabled with a life limiting condition and this was supposed to be a really special time for us.
Upon arrival at the airport we went directly to the Ryanair check-in counters. While we were queuing my wife and daughter were moved because their disabled stroller was causing a blockage. No one asked if we needed help or if we had visited the disabled assistance desk.
After checking our luggage, my wife and I saw the handicap assistance desk towards the other end of the airport and they checked us in. At no point were we asked if we would like a member of staff to walk us through the airport and to help show us through security, as we expected.
We got through the security barriers and found our daughter’s stroller wouldn’t fit. This added several minutes to the security process.
Then we were led through the dedicated lane for disabled passengers. Then there was confusion about electronic devices.
I took out my mobile phone and put it on the tray, however when my wife asked the security lady if she should take out her phone she said “no it’s ok”.
So we left electronics in our bags only to have the staff on the other side get upset and say the devices would have to be re-scanned. This added unnecessary additional time to our trip.
After the security process, a very helpful staff member started chatting with our children, who told him about our special trip to Lapland. We needed to buy oatmeal for our disabled daughter, who has special dietary needs.
The gentleman kindly got on his radio to find out our door number and he exceeded our expectations by showing us a shortcut to get to Pret A Manger. However, he did not express any urgency that we proceed to the door. We think it provided a false sense of reassurance.
Having overheard conversations from other passengers, we had to continue on foot. After finally arriving at the gate, we were absolutely shocked when Ryanair refused to allow us to board the flight.
The plane was still parked there with both doors still open.
Amid the hysteria of our terribly upset children, we suddenly realized that our once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland had come crashing down around us. It turned out that two other families had also been denied permission to board the flight.
Ryanair was sympathetic after I explained that we had a disabled passenger and described the problems we had encountered at the airport.
We were taken to the Ryanair customer service desk where a member of staff searched for alternative flights for a small fee. However, the only flight offered was several days later, and only three seats were available.
It feels like Ryanair and Stansted are blaming each other for what went wrong here, while we’re stuck in the middle.
– JW, via email
Her daughter suffers from Coffin Siris syndrome, which causes severe physical and learning difficulties. Taking her on a journey as long as this required meticulous planning and effort, which you now feel was wasted as none of you ended up going to Lapland.
I’m so sorry about how this attempted vacation turned out. I want you to know that I recognize the additional layer of difficulty you faced and I am very sympathetic to you.
I have asked Ryanair and Stansted Airport to carry out a full investigation into what exactly happened. Stansted immediately began tracking their CCTV footage of you and your group making your way through the airport. I’m afraid the conclusion of your investigation was not what you expected.
He was advised to arrive at check-in at least two hours before departure, which means he needed to be there by 4:50 am at the latest. However, the images show that his group of eight did not arrive until 5:18 am. She waited there for about 26 minutes and was advised to continue without a disability attendant because it was too late.
He then passed security in 14 minutes and the fact that he was sent the wrong way added just 90 seconds to his journey, according to CCTV. He then took a detour to Pret A Manger. Unfortunately, he had not realized that passengers with special needs could bring food on board, so he could have avoided this additional time.
You got to the gate 10 minutes after it closed and Stansted said their records showed you were the only passenger to miss the flight. He decided to refuse the three seats on the alternative flight because it would have meant that he only had a day and a half in Lapland and he thought it was not worth the effort.
Unfortunately, since the reason you missed your flight appears to be that you were half an hour late for check-in, I cannot reasonably ask Stansted Airport or Ryanair to make it up to you.
I know this will disappoint you, but I suggest you discuss what happened with your travel insurer now. The best of luck to you.