Sheila Cottrill was due to fly to see her son in Spain for the first time since the pandemic, but missed her flight because there were not enough ‘Ambulift’ drivers to help her board.
Image: MEDIA BPM)
A son has recounted how his elderly mother missed her Ryanair flight to Spain after staff “couldn’t help her on board”.
He fears the nightmare trip over the bank holiday weekend will cause the 87-year-old to stop traveling to see him again.
Sheila Cottrill arrived at Birmingham airport three hours before her flight, on her way to see her son Jeremy in Barcelona.
He was due to fly to see his son on Sunday, May 1, for the first time since the pandemic separated them.
Aid staff took the wheelchair user from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, through security, dropped her off near her door, and told her someone would be back to help her board the plane.
But she waited alone and had to watch the flight depart.
Upset, Ms Cottrill said she was later told there was a shortage of “Ambulift” drivers to help people with mobility problems.
His son Jeremy told Birmingham Live: “Not the way to treat an elderly disabled passenger traveling alone in his first post-Covid holiday situation.
“Before all this, he said he had lost confidence in traveling. Now I am afraid this will be the last time he will consider doing so.”
“There is supposed to be help for disabled people. There was a complete lack of care and sympathy.”
He added: “My mother, who is 87 and disabled, probably organized one last trip to see me, who lives in Spain.
“This was something that was not possible during the covid pandemic.
“He arranged an ‘assisted ride’ with Birmingham airport through Ryanair’s ticketing process.
“Staff guided her in a wheelchair through security and placed her at the gate in plenty of time for her flight.
“Eventually the flight left without her even though she was sitting at the gate because there were apparently not enough ‘Ambulift’ staff available.
“Then they basically unceremoniously wheeled her into a landslide and left her at the ‘Assisted Travel’ desk six hours after she arrived at the airport.
“She was told to make her own way home and, if she wanted to travel again, to come back to the airport the next day, where she could book another Ryanair ticket for an additional £100.”
Ms. Cottrill rebooked a flight for May 2, but then had to endure another stressful preparation to leave the airport.
She arrived again three hours early and the staff took her back to the security checkpoint.
Cottrill was told help would be available 45 minutes before his flight. But when she heard her final call, she was forced to stop a staff member who led her to her door.
Once again there were no specialized drivers available, so she decided to leave her wheelchair and attempt to walk to the plane while being helped by a member of staff carrying her suitcase.
“They forgot about her again and she had to remind the staff to take her to the door,” Jeremy said.
“Then she had to get out of her wheelchair and ‘run’ onto the tarmac to the plane and up the steps or she would have been left behind again. Where is the world going?”
Ms Cottrill added: “I was very upset. It has put me off doing it again.”
Birmingham Airport said they are investigating what went wrong.
A spokesperson said: “We feel terrible about the experience Mrs Cottrill had.
“We are investigating what happened in order to make things right.
“We had more than 110,000 clients who traveled between Friday and Monday. Nearly 57,000 were departing passengers and 99.6 percent successfully boarded their flight.
“We will be looking into the circumstances of anyone who has missed their flight. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”
“As always, our message to departing customers is: Please help us help you keep the queues moving by showing up at security 60 minutes before your flight time and removing any liquids, gels, pastes and electrical items from your bags. bags before our security x-ray scanners. “
A Ryanair spokeswoman added: “Wheelchair services at Birmingham Airport are operated by OCS, who failed to help Ms Cottrill get to her flight in time for her scheduled departure at 3.50pm on 1st January. may.
“As a goodwill gesture, Ryanair re-accommodated Ms Cottrill on the next available flight from Birmingham to Barcelona the following night, free of charge.”