Disabled Woman had to be Manually Lifted onto Plane
Wednesday, 8th June 2011
A 57 year old disabled woman from Northamptonshire has successfully sued the budget airline Ryanair after her husband was forced to manually carry her onto a flight.
Jo Heath who suffers from multiple sclerosis was left sitting in her wheelchair beside the plane after a hydraulic lift failed to turn up.
After waiting for 30 minutes Paul, Mrs Heath’s husband, asked the cabin crew and pilots for assistance but he was told that they were unable to assist. Mr Heath then decided to carry his ten stone wife over his shoulder in a ‘fireman’s lift’ fashion up the aircraft stairs and into her seat as aircrew and fellow passengers looked on.
Mrs Heath said ‘when I was carried on the plane, everyone was looking over their seats to see what was happening. It was humiliating and distressing.’
Mrs Heath has now won £1,750 compensation after it was decided that Ryanair had breached its contract by failing to provide appropriate levels of assistance and contravening disability discrimination laws.
Mrs Heath went on to say ‘I’m not terribly impressed with the payout, but it is not a question of money. It is about standing up for people with disabilities so this doesn’t happen to anyone else’.
Mr Heath said that they had rejected an out-of-court settlement because Ryanair wanted to gag them, but the couple stated they wanted open justice and for Ryanair to be accountable for their actions.
Ryanair plan to appeal the court decision blaming the departing airport – Luton for the failure to provide adequate assistance to Mrs Heath. A spokesperson for the airline stated ‘Under European Union law airports, and not the airlines, are responsible for the provision of assistance to special needs passengers.'