Man with cerebral palsy kicked off Ryanair flight after 595-pound wheelchair deemed ‘too heavy’ to hold
A vacationer with cerebral palsy was left furious after being kicked off his flight because his wheelchair was ‘too heavy’ to lift from a conveyor belt.
Brandon Aughton, 24, of West Bridgford, Nottingham, along with his carer Orla Hennessey, 41, was due to fly from East Midlands Airport to Malaga with Ryanair.
But Mr Aughton, who lives with cerebral palsy, was removed from the plane by the pilot when his 595-pound modified wheelchair could not be loaded into the hold by baggage handlers.
After the pair boarded their flight and left Brandon’s electric chair in the hands of Swissport, the airline’s cargo handling company decided it was too heavy to lift off the conveyor belt and into the hold.
After a solution could not be found, the pilot decided that Brandon, whose condition affects his movement and coordination, could not stay on board due to flight schedule delays.
Mr Aughton said: ‘I’ve flown twice like this before and never had any problems. I was angry.’
Brandon Aughton, 24, (right) from West Bridgford, Nottingham, was kicked off his flight at East Midlands Airport in Derby along with his caretaker Orla Hennessey, 41 (left).
Brandon and Orla were on board a Ryanair flight to Malaga last month when they were told to get off the plane. [File picture]
Orla, who works for healthcare company Right at Home, said: “Brandon got really upset at one point – it felt like nobody wanted to help us.
“It was Swissport’s responsibility to put the wheelchair on the plane and tell the ground crew to get it on the plane, but they didn’t and there was no equipment to lift it as it weighs a 270kg . [595lbs] chair.
“There were four who said they couldn’t lift it for health and safety reasons and they kicked us off the flight unceremoniously even though we had the letter from Ryanair saying the seat was not too heavy and could be lifted brought.
“The Swissport lady said we gave them wrong information, but we told them they had the information because Ryanair said it was all right.”
“As we went through customs I was told I had a dangerous item in my bag but it was an Allen wrench to take Brandon’s chair apart so I asked and was told I would be let through this time , but don’t ‘don’t let it happen again.’
Brandon and Orla were able to fly Ryanair to Malaga late on Tuesday 12 October for his first holiday in two years of shielding, but he had to make do with a lighter, manual wheelchair that was not suitable for his needs.
Orla said taking the undersized seat was akin to “someone taking his legs off him” and said it was an “unsettling” experience.
But Brandon still missed 48 hours of his vacation — the first trip he’s taken in the past two years since shielding himself.
Brandon had to use his specially adapted 595-pound wheelchair for mobility, but was told it was ‘too heavy’ for the plane’s hold
Orla said: ‘Brandon still wanted a holiday and a disabled holiday agency managed to arrange flights for us the next day, but we had to take a manual wheelchair – which is completely unacceptable for Brandon’s needs.
“He didn’t have his mobility and it’s like taking someone’s legs off them – it was quite disturbing.
“My main goal was to get Brandon on vacation and I was ruthless with some people at times, but otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.”
A Swissport spokesperson said: ‘We are saddened to hear the customer’s claims about an incident at East Midlands Airport.
“We take our responsibility to disabled passengers very seriously and understand the importance of smooth travel for all passengers.”
After no solution could be found, the pilot decided that Brandon, whose condition affects his movement and coordination, could not stay on board due to flight schedule delays.
An East Midlands Airport spokesperson added: ‘We are sorry to learn that Brandon’s wheelchair was deemed too heavy to be loaded onto the aircraft.
“After supporting Brandon and his companion on the plane in one of our specially modified vehicles, we were informed of the handling agent’s decision not to accept his wheelchair.
“When no solution could be found, we guided him back to the terminal and we understood that he could rebook a flight the following day.
“We regularly review and review all procedures and services, whether they are the direct responsibility of the airport or provided by the airlines and handlers operating out of East Midlands.
This is to ensure that passengers receive the highest standards of customer service at all stages of their journey through the airport.
“We are proud of the quality of support we provide to all customers who need support at the airport. In its last rating, the Civil Aviation Authority rated our accessibility services as “Very Good”, which is the highest possible rating.”
A Ryanair spokesperson said: ‘We have contacted this customer directly and this has been resolved.’