A Paralympian Was Left Stranded on a Ryanair Flight for 45 Minutes

Aug 30, 2018

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While every passenger on board a Ryanair flight that landed at London’s Stansted Airport (STN) grabbed their luggage, Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike was left stranded for 45 minutes before any airport staff helped her.

The flight had already landed two hours behind schedule. Wafula-Strike was returning from the World Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin and had booked assistance a month in advance, BBC reported.

“I felt angry and very neglected,” Wafula-Strike told BBC. “It’s not good when you are abandoned on a flight, and everyone else is picking up their bags and walking off.”

When a staff member finally reached the Paralympian, they claimed they were understaffed and were not aware her flight had landed in Stansted. Ryanair said a company called Omniserv was responsible for assisting disabled passengers at Stansted, but, Omniserv’s website says it is only responsible for passenger services at London Heathrow (LHR) and Manchester Airport (MAN).

A Stansted spokesman expressed the airport’s disappointment with the event that left Wafula-Strike abandoned for nearly an hour.

“We are in the process of investigating how such a situation arose and have asked Omniserv, the company responsible for looking after passengers with reduced mobility, for a full explanation of why Anne had to wait for such a long time on the aircraft,” the spokesman said.

TPG reached out to Ryanair for comment, but did not receive a response by time of publication.

This is yet another instance that demonstrates what it’s like traveling with a disability. In the US, of the 56.7 million of Americas who have a disability, 72% expressed major obstacles with airlines, and 65% reported issues with airports, according to the Open Doors Organization and the Travel Industry Association of America.

“When someone like me speaks up or raises their voice, people will think it is only happening to one or two people, but it is becoming a common occurrence for people with disabilities to be left neglected on planes or not able to get into trains,” Wafula-Strike said.

Wafula-Strike is part of the group of Paralympians who launched the #TransportJustice campaign Wednesday to help people with disabilities use the law to challenge transport discrimination. The campaign is supported by Inclusion London, a charity group that promotes equality for London’s deaf and disabled people.

Featured image by Tony Marshall – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images.

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