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Gary Scholes, 40, was travelling from Manchester Airport to Mallorca with 27-year-old sister Danielle Snowball and other members of the family for a long-awaited break. The family had arranged special assistance for Gary, who requires the use of a wheelchair, when they booked their flight with Ryanair weeks ago, and said they had never had any issues before.
But it’s alleged airline staff at the departure gate told Gary they didn’t have an aisle seat and would be “unboarding” him from the flight.
Danielle claims the family, from West Yorkshire, later discovered he wasn’t able to board because wheelchair assistance arrived after the gate had closed. The family say they were forced to pay another £850 to book Gary and his partner on to the next available flight, and that the whole experience has left them “disgusted.”
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Danielle said: “When we booked on my brother you can log that they require special assistance. We booked this weeks ago so they will have had lots of notice.
“We got to the boarding queue and Gary and his fiancé were waiting at the desk. When we got on the flight they hadn’t been let on yet. Then we got a call and he said that he was being unboarded from the flight.
“They said they didn’t have an aisle chair for him. This is unacceptable anyway because we alerted them that he was in a wheelchair. But he was just being ignored. Nobody gave him a proper explanation. It was like nobody cared. Him and his fiancé were really upset.”
Danielle said the family had been waiting “ages” to come on holiday together, and slammed the alleged treatment of her brother – which she says left him feeling distressed and humiliated.
“The captain made an announcement saying he was having to take all of the bags off to find my brother’s bag because a passenger had arrived at the gate late,” Danielle continued.
“It was very uncomfortable that we were put in this position.
“I am just appalled. Whilst trying to find out what was going on, we received no help from Ryanair or Manchester Airport staff as each tried to blame the other or another department. We then found out the reason he was unboarded was due to wheelchair assistance arriving to him after the gate had closed.
“I couldn’t believe it. Nobody seemed to care. Just before we took off my dad managed to book him on to the 12.55 flight but that cost £850 but it was the only way we could get him here.”
They have since demanded an apology from both Ryanair and Manchester Airport and an explanation as to why Mr Scholes was treated this way.
“We just hope we can get all this resolved and that sharing what happened helps to improve the process they have in place for supporting disabled people and those who require special assistance,” Danielle added.
Manchester Airport said no staff from the airport were directly involved in the decision to offload the passenger.
Ryanair says “inconvenience” was caused by ABM, a building maintenance firm.
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Special assistance at Manchester Airport is provided by ABM – not by Ryanair.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to this passenger by ABM, who failed to provide the mobility equipment required by this passenger which resulted in him missing his flight, and who then wrongly failed to re-accommodate him on another flight.”
ABM has declined to comment.
Swissport provides airport ground, lounge hospitality and cargo handling services.
A Swissport spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear about this passenger’s experience and are looking into the circumstances of this with our team at the airport.”
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