A couple from Durham enjoyed a dream first holiday together in Turkey but it turned into a nightmare on their homeward flight when the disabled passenger was humiliated by the Thomas Cook staff on being asked for special assistance. While the wheelchair user was upset and deeply offended, her partner complained of no special assistance and unacceptable mistreatment of disabled passengers by the airline. To reconcile, Thomas Cook not only apologized but also gave her the refund.
Disabled Passenger claims Mistreatment
The couple, Jolene Duggleby and James Lyons had a holiday package with Thomas Cook, which included flights on the company’s airline between Newcastle and Dalaman. But what was an amazing vacation was ruined by the whole return journey experience. Being disabled since birth, Jolene Duggleby, a wheelchair user had booked special assistance. But it was not provided at the airport and unfortunately the couple had to make their way unaided to the gate.
Jolene had a negative experience as spanning from check-in to boarding the plane to deplaning at her final destination. According to her Facebook post, she was snapped at when asked to be directed to the special assistance team at check-in. Also there was much confusion at the gate as to how she was going to board the plane as a special chair lift was required. The lift was performed incorrectly and became painful owing to her past surgeries. After a flight of over four hours, they arrived at Newcastle. But to her surprise, her wheelchair had been broken in several places. Jolene became very emotional and she wanted to exit the plane as soon as possible. Whilst she was still sobbing on the floor, being stood over and shouted at, the special assistance team arrived with a temporary chair to use to get off the plane and through the airport. However, she left the airport feeling vulnerable, humiliated, anxious, upset and genuinely traumatized by the mistreatment.
Special Assistance in Airlines
If you’re a disabled passenger and you feel that assistance from airline staff would make your journey easier, then you should book special assistance. From mobility difficulties to hidden disabilities like Alzheimer’s and ADHD, the airline staff is on hand to help you every step of the way. Also you need to let them know you need assistance. Perhaps, you should contact your airline at least 48 hours before you fly. Moreover, you can travel with your own mobility equipment, such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters or walkers. Don’t forget to inform your airline in advance that you’ll be travelling with your own equipment.