A 32-year-old man with cerebral palsy was recently removed from a BA flight just before departure, when cabin staff decided he was unfit to travel. This caused not only embarrassment and inconvenience for the passenger, who had passed through check-in and boarding without staff raising any concerns, but also for his family, who had travelled 200 miles from Devon to drop  him off; they were almost home by the time they received a call to come back to London. BA quickly issued an apology and a partial refund, but the incident highlights an issue where an inconsistent approach is sometimes applied by employees of the same airline.

Philip Scott, managing director of Can Be Done, a tour operator specialising in disabled travel, says, ” The manner in which the situation was dealt with is appalling.  It is well known that cabin staff are not allowed to physically manhandle passengers in case they cause an injury.  However, as they should have had an in-flight wheelchair on board it would only have required a member of the the cabin team to push the passenger to the toilet as it appears he would have been able to transfer himself into and out of the wheelchair.  In order to obtain assistance to his aircraft seat the passenger or his family would have had to provide all relevant information some time before arriving at the airport.  Therefore the airline should have been well aware of the passengers needs, especially as he had made a similar journey previously.  I note that the airline appear to now be offering a full refund but this doesn’t compensate for the extreme embarrassment and distress caused to the passenger and his family.”

The full story is in the Torquay Herald Express.