Layla Harding, who is a member of our Trailblazers network of young disabled campaigners, has been in the news after raising a complaint with Eurostar who wanted to charge her extra for her wheelchair.
Layla, 22, 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, she was disappointed when Eurostar told her she would need to pay an extra £60 “luggage fee” to bring her wheelchair on board the train.
Layla wanted to sit in a seat using her crutches and be next to her friends, with her wheelchair stored nearby until she needed it. But Eurostar told her that because her wheelchair can’t fold up to fit in a luggage rack, she’d need to pay a luggage fee for it to go in the hold.
After speaking with the Trailblazers team here at MDUK, Layla felt that Eurostar’s policy was unfair and decided to complain.
She told BuzzFeed News:
I was really annoyed, and I thought it must’ve been an error.
They called me back and told me that after looking into it, ‘this is actually our policy’, and that they would charge the same amount for bringing a bike on board or a musical instrument.
I told them that this is a necessity, and it’s not like I want to take my wheelchair with me, it’s because I have to.
Eventually, Eurostar apologised to Layla and confirmed she would not have to pay an additional fee for her wheelchair.
They told Buzzfeed News:
If the wheelchair is too large to fit comfortably into the luggage racks, it will need to travel as registered luggage in the train hold. There is no cost for this service – it is exempt from our usual registered baggage fees – and this is what Ms Harding should have been advised by us.
We are very sorry for the frustration this caused during the booking process.
We will be speaking to the relevant teams at Eurostar, as a priority, to ensure they have the correct information regarding wheelchair passengers on board our trains.
As well as Buzzfeed News, Layla’s story was also shared on ITV London and BBC London News.
Watch the BBC London report here.
Main photo above: Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed News