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“My flight home from a holiday has left me traumatised.”

Kiera shares the “awful” experience she was put through when recently flying back from a holiday in Poland. She discusses the discrimination faced at Krakow airport, the lack of staff training about mobility aid regulations, and the terrible customer service response after submitting a complaint.

When you fly as a disabled person, it always comes with extra planning and anxiety about whether your mobility aid will come back broken. No matter how many times I’ve flown with the same airline, I always triple check the regulations and inform them about my mobility equipment ahead of time. I’m a frequent flyer, but I have never had such a bad experience as I did coming home from Poland.

Being told my mobility equipment had to be destroyed

My partner and I went to Krakow in Poland for a pre-Christmas getaway last year. We flew with Ryanair and had no issues on the flight out. Flying home was a different story. The way I was treated at the airport left me feeling humiliated and traumatised.

I rely on my mobility scooter to get around as I can’t walk at all. I have to take two batteries with me on holiday; the one currently being used and a spare. After going through the details about my batteries with member of staff. I was told aggressively that I could only fly home with one of my batteries, and the other one − which costs nearly £500 − had to be destroyed. I tried to explain this was incorrect. I know the rules about travelling with lithium batteries, and I explained I had flown into the airport with the exact same equipment just days before. She repeatedly spoke down to me and said the decision was final.

My partner got the protocols up on his phone to read to the women. International and UK regulations state that if the mobility aid is powered by one battery, you can carry one spare as long as each are less than 300wh. My batteries are 252wh each. Even though we showed her this, she kept repeating that the battery had to be destroyed. It was so distressing and infuriating.

“It was like she was telling someone to fly without one of their legs.”

A passenger, who was flying on another airline to a different London airport, had watched this happen and kindly offered to take my battery on their plane as hand luggage. We were so grateful and picked it up the evening we landed. This was such a lovely thing for someone to do, but it should never have come to that. Why did I have to rely on the kindness of a stranger to get my essential piece of equipment back home? 

The complaints process was infuriating

I was so upset by what I’d gone through. I was also concerned that if this happened to someone who wasn’t a regular flyer, it would put them off going on holiday ever again. I wrote a complaints letter and I’m almost as appalled with Ryanair’s customer service as I am about what happened at the airport.

I’ve been speaking with the complaints team since January and they have given no sincere apology or accepted fault for how I was treated. They insulted me further by responding with “we sincerely regret the experience however safety is our top priority” and “we pride ourselves upon the high standards of service and professionalism.”

We have had six emails backwards and forwards . In every email I wrote, I asked to be told what extra training would be given to their staff to make sure this never happens again. Each reply disregarded what I went through by apologising for the inconvenience’, stating that they sympathise with my view but their position has not changed. I repeatedly asked what this position was, but my question was ignored, as was the mention of additional training.

Flying doesn’t have to be this hard

“It is exhausting to have to fight for your rights as a disabled person, and this could have been avoided with proper staff training.”

Situations like these mean many disabled people avoid flying which is so unfair. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I will continue travelling because I refuse to be held back. Travelling is something I can do and love to do. There is so much to see and experience around the world, and I’ll not let my experience flying with Ryanair stop me from doing so.   

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