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Ryanair Flight Takes Off Leaving Passenger in Wheelchair at the Gate

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On Friday, a Ryanair flight departing from Dublin, Ireland headed for London, England left Niamh Herbert, 20, a passenger who was supposed to be on the flight and who uses a wheelchair, behind at the gate.

“I was shocked,” Herbert, who, along with her brother, lives with Friedreich’s Ataxia, told The Mighty. “We’ve always travelled with difficulty, but it has never been this extreme. I didn’t think anything like that would happen in this day and age.”

According to Herbert, Ryanair had her board last, asking her if she could get out of her wheelchair and walk up the stairs to the plane for “easiness’ sake.” “It was then, Herbert says, the captain called the boarding desk and said, while he understood the situation, the plane would take off without her,” The Guardian reported. Herbert told her friends to board without her, that she would get a flight later, and was left behind at the gate.

A Ryanair spokesperson told The Guardian:

While we regret any inconvenience, this customer arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart and had not booked any wheelchair services. Our crew provided full assistance and as a gesture of goodwill, transferred this customer on to the next available flight, free of charge, and the customer flew to London Stansted. Had this customer booked wheelchair assistance and arrived at the boarding gate on time, there would have been no issue. Every effort was made to accommodate this customer on to their flight and they were then transferred to the next available flight.

Herbert disagrees with Ryanair and said she did book wheelchair assistance with her flight, noting that her original flight was supposed to be on Thursday and that when she switched her flight to Friday, she assumed the wheelchair services would be switched over as well.

Herbert said she has not heard from Ryanair since her flight, and, based on her experience, doesn’t expect to. “Ryanair, specifically, need to change their policy on boarding wheelchair users last,” she said. “They’re the only airline I’ve flown with who do this. Consideration isn’t much to ask for.”

Update: Ryanair told The Mighty in a statement: 

A name change was made online at 2.39am (16 Feb) and no wheelchair assistance (which is provided at Dublin Airport by OCS) was booked. The only reason this customer did not board their original flight was because they arrived at the gate late and had not booked wheelchair assistance. Had they arrived at the gate on time and booked assistance, they would have travelled without issue, as they did when returning from London Stansted.

WATCH BELOW: World’s First Fully Accessible Water Park to Open in 2017 

Originally published: February 21, 2017
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