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Ray King, 68, has said he will “never fly via Manchester Airport” again after being left to wait onboard a flight. Ray, who has osteoarthritis in both knees and one hip, landed on a Jet2.com flight from Dalaman at 4.45pm earlier this month. His wife, Pauline, had pre-booked assistance to help him from the aircraft and through the hub as he cannot negotiate steps or walk long distances.
However, upon landing, and after all other passengers had disembarked, Ray claims both they and another couple waited a further two hours for staff from assistance agency ABM – despite repeated attempts from the cabin and crew to speed up the process.
The plane had been due to fly out again to Sicily at 6.15pm but the delay meant the next set of passengers didn’t get going until after 8pm, says Ray. In the meantime, he says he was taken by ambulift to the terminal, where, with the support of his wife, he had to tackle the walk to passport control on foot as no wheelchair was made available, despite having requested one.
Ray told the Manchester Evening News: “Despite needing a wheelchair to negotiate the many areas of the airport I was dumped at a door and told ‘there is the lift’. If it hadn’t been for my wife’s help I would have been helpless.
“Both Jet2.com captains, the one who flew us in and the one who arrived to fly the next passengers out, were amazing and really tried to help. I don’t blame the airline, they tried their utmost.
“When they finally got us they had no wheelchairs after the ride to the terminal so I just had to walk a bit, sit down, then walk again, and suffer with the help of my wife. We will never fly through Manchester Airport again. It was the complete opposite at Dalaman, they couldn’t help enough.
“We live equal distance to Newcastle and Leeds and we go away three times a year. We’ve always travelled from Manchester but we will not do that again. Even in the terminal there were no lights on and we had to shout to get the passport control guy. Our baggage was just plonked on the floor and my wife had to go hunting for it. No explanation, no staff.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman said Mr King had been in contact with their customer feedback team and confirmed it was agency ABM who had dealt with the request for special assistance. It’s understood a ‘technical outage’ on the day in question may have contributed to the incident.
He added: “We are sorry to hear this passenger had a disappointing experience upon arrival.
“Our whole industry is facing resource challenges at present, following the most damaging two years in its history. This includes not only airports and airlines, but also third parties operating on our site, including the special assistance providers who are responsible for supporting passengers such as Mr King with additional requirements.
“We will continue to work with our partners to understand the challenges they’re facing, mitigate these pressures in the interim and deliver the best passenger experience we can.”
An ABM spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of the special assistance service we provide passengers, and delivering that service with efficiency, respect, and care is critical. We regret any time when our service does not meet that standard, and are working with our teams and partners in examining Mr King’s experience.
“We are currently experiencing higher volumes of passengers who require special assistance than our busiest pre-pandemic peak while the entire industry continues to face resource challenges. We know that we are not alone in managing these issues and understand the inconvenience and emotional impact this all may have on individuals travelling, particularly those requiring additional assistance. We are working in collaboration with all our clients and partners to minimise the impact as we navigate this phase of the pandemic recovery.”
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