Eurostar have announced they will be changing their booking procedure for passengers with mobility difficulties after MDUK supporter, Layla Harding, was told she would need to pay extra to bring her wheelchair on board.
Layla Harding, 22, who is a member of our Trailblazers network of young disabled campaigners, has lower-leg muscle weakness and uses a mixture of crutches and a manual wheelchair to get around.
After booking a holiday to Brussels in December, Layla planned on sitting in her seat with her crutches and then using her wheelchair when she arrived. She was shocked when Eurostar informed her she would need to pay an extra £60 “luggage fee” to have her wheelchair go in the hold, because it wasn’t the type that folds up to fit in a luggage rack.
After speaking to MDUK, we advised Layla that to be charged extra for her wheelchair was deeply unfair and possibly discriminatory under the Equality Act. Layla complained to Eurostar, who later apologised, and her story featured on Buzzfeed News, ITV and BBC London.
Eurostar have now told BuzzFeed News that following Layla’s experience, it will send bookings for reduced mobility and wheelchair passengers through a specialist team. It will also run disability awareness training for the employees who work in its contact centre.
Layla told BuzzFeed News that she’s delighted at the outcome:
I really appreciate how receptive [Eurostar] were to the case, and that they were committed to improve their services to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to somebody else.
Victoria Wright, Trailblazers Campaigns and PR Officer, said:
It is unacceptable to tell a disabled person they will need to pay more money for needing to travel with their wheelchair. We commend Eurostar for acknowledging there is a problem with the information they provide to their disabled passengers and that they’re committed to improving this. A huge well done to Layla for pursuing this issue. It just goes to show how the campaigning of one young disabled person can make a huge positive difference.
Main photo above: Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed News