Disabled man, 68, was left stranded on plane for TWO hours

Disabled man, 68, who was left stranded on a plane for TWO hours vows never to travel through Manchester Airport again – days after BBC’s Frank Gardner slams Heathrow over similar treatment

  • Ray King was left stranded on the aircraft at Manchester Airport for two hours
  • His wife Pauline had pre-booked assistance to help him off as he can’t walk far
  • The 68-year-old was left waiting despite the efforts of cabin crew to find help
  • As a result of the delay taking him off, the plane was late starting its next flight 

A disabled man who was left stranded on a plane for two hours has vowed never to travel through Manchester Airport again. 

Ray King, 68, who has osteoarthritis in both knees and one hip, landed on a Jet2.com flight from Dalaman, Turkey, at 4.45pm earlier this month.

Ray’s wife Pauline had pre-booked assistance to help him from the aircraft and through the hub as he cannot negotiate steps or walk long distances. 

However, on landing and after all other passengers had disembarked, Ray claims both they and another couple waited a further two hours for staff from assistance agency ABM – despite repeated attempts from the cabin and crew to speed up the process.

The plane had been due to fly out again to Sicily at 6.15pm but the delay meant the next set of passengers didn’t get going until after 8pm, says Ray. 

In the meantime, he says he was taken by ambulift to the terminal, where, with the support of his wife, he had to tackle the walk to passport control on foot as no wheelchair was made available, despite having requested one.

It comes days after BBC journalist Frank Gardner was left in a similar situation when there were not enough staff at Heathrow Airport to get his wheelchair, leaving him stuck on an aircraft. 

Ray King, pictured here with his wife Pauline, was stuck on a Jet2.com plane at Manchester Airport for two hours awaiting assistance

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News Ray said during his ordeal at Manchester Airport was a huge contrast compared to his experience in Turkey.

‘Despite needing a wheelchair to negotiate the many areas of the airport I was dumped at a door and told “there is the lift”,’ he said. If it hadn’t been for my wife’s help I would have been helpless.

‘Both Jet2.com captains, the one who flew us in and the one who arrived to fly the next passengers out, were amazing and really tried to help. I don’t blame the airline, they tried their utmost.

‘When they finally got us they had no wheelchairs after the ride to the terminal so I just had to walk a bit, sit down, then walk again, and suffer with the help of my wife. 

‘We will never fly through Manchester Airport again. It was the complete opposite at Dalaman, they couldn’t help enough.

‘We live equal distance to Newcastle and Leeds and we go away three times a year. We’ve always travelled from Manchester but we will not do that again. 

‘Even in the terminal there were no lights on and we had to shout to get the passport control guy. 

‘Our baggage was just plonked on the floor and my wife had to go hunting for it. No explanation, no staff.’

Ray said the staff on the plane were ‘amazing and really tried to help’, but despite there best efforts he was left there for more than two hours. Pictured is a Jet2.com aircraft (file photo)

A Manchester Airport spokesman said Mr King had been in contact with their customer feedback team and confirmed it was agency ABM who had dealt with the request for special assistance. 

It’s understood a ‘technical outage’ on the day in question may have contributed to the incident.

He added: ‘We are sorry to hear this passenger had a disappointing experience upon arrival.

‘Our whole industry is facing resource challenges at present, following the most damaging two years in its history. 

‘This includes not only airports and airlines, but also third parties operating on our site, including the special assistance providers who are responsible for supporting passengers such as Mr King with additional requirements.

‘We will continue to work with our partners to understand the challenges they’re facing, mitigate these pressures in the interim and deliver the best passenger experience we can.’

An ABM spokesperson said: ‘We understand the importance of the special assistance service we provide passengers, and delivering that service with efficiency, respect, and care is critical. 

‘We regret any time when our service does not meet that standard, and are working with our teams and partners in examining Mr King’s experience.

‘We are currently experiencing higher volumes of passengers who require special assistance than our busiest pre-pandemic peak while the entire industry continues to face resource challenges. 

‘We know that we are not alone in managing these issues and understand the inconvenience and emotional impact this all may have on individuals travelling, particularly those requiring additional assistance. 

‘We are working in collaboration with all our clients and partners to minimise the impact as we navigate this phase of the pandemic recovery.’

It comes days after BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner was left in a similar situation after there were ‘no staff to get his wheelchair off’ when he landed at Heathrow Airport.

The veteran journalist, who has been using a wheelchair since he was shot six times by militants in Saudi Arabia in 2004, accused the airport of treating disabled passengers as ‘lowest priority’.

He had been on a flight from Estonia when he was left with no way off the plane due to the lack of staff to get his wheelchair. 

Security correspondent Frank Gardner was left on the empty flight from Estonia and says he was told that no staff were available to help him get off the plane

Tweeting about the incident, which took place on May 15, the 60-year-old said: ‘It’s happened again. Stuck on an empty plane at Heathrow airport long after everyone else is off — ‘no staff to get my wheelchair off the plane’.

‘I am SO disappointed with @HeathrowAirport as disabled passengers are once again apparently the lowest priority.’

Around 22 minutes after his original tweet, he confirmed he was ‘in the terminal while I’m guessing all other passengers are on their way home’.

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport replied on Twitter: ‘Hi Frank, we apologise unreservedly for this incident and we regret that the service fell short of the experience we aim to provide at Heathrow. 

‘We’re looking into it as a matter of urgency and if you have any further info you’d like to share with us, please feel free to DM us.’

Mr Gardner said his latest issues are ‘incredibly minor’ when the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is considered but that it was ‘objectionable’ how frequent ‘cr**p treatment’ is given to disabled people. 

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