Easyjet refuses to fly disabled passengers. Again.
2013’s been a funny old year in airlines. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary seems to have undergone a personality transplant and is now actively trying not to piss people off, a complete turnaround from his previous modus operandi. Now offensively orange Easyjet seems to have taken over the pantomime villain’s hat and is in coury not once, but twice this week for discriminating against disabled passengers. By refusing to fly them.
The first case is an appeal against the decision of a French court to award a disabled passenger €5000 in damages and fine the airline the same amount for refusing to fly a wheelchair bound passenger from Paris to Nice, despite having flown her from Nice to Paris the previous day. On the return leg, the cabin crew asked her if she could get to an Emergency Exit unaided. When she said she could not, another passenger (who was actually a pilot) offered to be her designated driver and assist her should something happen during the short flight. However, this was not deemed acceptable by Easyjet management and the disabled passenger was unceremoniously ejected from the flight.
On Thursday, another case of disabled refusal is being heard for the first time, where a woman who was travelling with another disabled passenger was refused passage on a flight to Portugal to attend her son’s funeral. Citing Health and Safety rules, the pair were refused travel and she was forced to buy a last minute return flight with another airline.
Easyjet’s excuse for this behaviour is not that they can’t be bothered with the hassle of disabled passengers, but that they are bound by Health and Safety rules, rules that are, apparently, easily dealt with by other airlines who fly those with mobility problems, and even by Easyjet themselves. Perhaps we might be more inclined to believe them if they hadn’t already been fined €70,000 for doing the exact same thing to disabled passengers between November 2008 and January 2009. Described as a ‘landmark ruling’ Easyjet clearly need to get their head around the fact that they can’t just refuse passengers willy nilly.
Still, if you do have mobility problems, you might want to think again before booking a solo Easyjet flight. Just in case.