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When an Airline Wrecked My Wheelchair on a Flight to Ibiza

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On Sunday July 23, 2017 I flew from Belfast to Ibiza for a much needed four-night break. On landing at Ibiza airport, the special assistance ground crew advised me that my wheelchair was damaged during the flight. I was in complete shock as when disembarking and reunited with my chair, I discovered it was completely wrecked. The whole frame of the chair had been completely bent with the front wheels touching the back wheels.

With great difficulty, the ground crew tried to pull the frame back into place, which gave me the ability to partially use the chair, but I could barely put the front wheels on the ground. The chair was shuddering and I was being pushed forward, creating a huge risk of being thrown out of the chair. If this happens, it would be catastrophic as I have brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) and any impact or trauma such as being thrown from my chair could be life-threatening.

I reported it to the desk and spoke to a Jet2 representative at the airport, who told me she could only help if I was booked on a Jet2 Holiday, whereas I was flight only. I reported the matter and left my contact details. I managed with difficulty to get to my hotel, where I had to spend most of my holiday and many of the activities I had planned were abandoned due to the damage done to my wheelchair. I emailed Jet2 immediately. It took two days for me to receive a call from them when in Ibiza. They left me stranded with no assistance or acknowledgement of the challenges I was facing.

Since arriving back in Belfast, I have spoken to Jet2 and they are only offering me £100 over their statutory obligation of £1200 which is the maximum payout their insurers will provide under “The Montreal Convention” all airlines signed up to for baggage claims. They are unprepared to look at the individual circumstances of this case and the risk they are now putting me in by using my severely damaged chair. I can’t use a standard wheelchair, as due to my disability the chair is completely custom-made for my needs.

I need a new chair and it will take over two months to get, however I need to find the money first to pay for it, which Jet2 is unwilling to provide. They have offered an apology and only £1207 in compensation towards the £4000 of a replacement wheelchair, which in itself I cannot afford to pay. Furthermore, they have offered absolutely nothing towards the holiday that was ruined due to their negligence and have shown a complete lack of ethics in handling the matter appropriately.

Has your wheelchair been broken during air travel? What did you do?

Follow this ongoing situation at Chris’ Facebook page.

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Photo by contributor.

Originally published: August 30, 2017
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