You may have heard the song ‘don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington’ well as a play on words – ‘don’t put your 95 year old disabled mother on a Ryanair flight Mr Jo Public’.
My mother, a game old bird, has travelled with her family’s help to and from the Costa Blanca to stay with us each May for the last 5 years, since my father died.
Her brain stays alert but unfortunately, her body grows more frail. Gradually her mobility has deteriorated and throughout most of an airport, she now requires the use of a wheelchair.
She’s not one of those ‘lingerers’ who demands special assistance to get through the airport as quickly as possible by jumping all queues then literally jumping out of their wheelchair and sprint to their car at the end of their journey.
But I digress. Back to the 2 infamous recent journeys with Ryanair. Recently I came from Spain to help my mother take her annual sojourn to the Costa Blanca. Normally we travel by easyJet but this year, seduced by the attractive flight times, we gave Ryanair a try. How wrong were we!
Luton airport was its usual chaos but with research beforehand we traversed it well, until that we started the process of boarding our Ryanair flight.
We expected the rickety loading of the disabled persons wagon but were utterly shocked to see ourselves then being loaded onto the back of the Ryanair plane – our seats were in row 3 not 33! For which we had paid handsomely!
My mother doesn’t even walk in a week the equivalent of the full length of a plane aisle and we advised the aircrew accordingly. “Just sit there” they said pointing to currently empty seats at the back of the plane. “We’ll try and reseat those passengers with those seats into your seats” and off they went. We, apparently, forgotten. We had to move twice as the passengers arrived wanting their seats with no aircrew to explain to them of our predicament. Eventually we settled ourselves into considerably cheaper seats at the rear.
At no time when booking our flight online or requesting special assistance was any mention made of the boarding situation.
At the end of the flight it took them so long to unload us at Alicante, the conveyer belts at customs were no longer showing our flight and it took forever and a lot of legwork to locate our luggage.
Great, we arrived at my house and Mum started to enjoy her holiday. During the course of it, I endeavoured to contact Ryanair by Webb page, email and finally their chat room where I thought I was successful.
We were due to fly back to UK with Ryanair and I wanted reassurance that we would be reasonably assisted to our booked seats that were at the front of the plane. The chat room advised that Ryanair ALWAYS loaded by tunnel to the front of the plane at Alicante Airport. Well that WAS a weight off our minds.
A few days later, we were disappointed to learn by email that Ryanair’s luggage policy had changed and the 10kg cabin luggage we had booked now had to go in the hold instead and only small bags were allowed in the cabin. Well, we had large hold cases so we don’t travel with a small cabin case, we use either a holdall or knapsack for the cabin, neither of which we wish to put in the hold. So we had to resort to full heavy cases and handbags.
We are not surprised at the change of policy, as when you stand at any gate waiting to board we’ve seen some of those cabin cases. You could fit a bath in them never mind a kitchen sink!
We had paid a charge for this privilege of cabin luggage but no reimbursement was offered.
I had also asked the Ryanair chat room how I could be reimbursed for the non-use of our expensive seats on our recent journey. They advised me to contact a particular Ryanair webpage, which I duly did.
Unfortunately, they have no prescripted text to cover my request. I had not been the subject of a delayed flight nor had anyone died and I didn’t have supporting evidence in pictures so, as they obviously wanted me to, – I gave up! This being the case (ha-ha case!) it was not worth me trying to get money back for our cabin luggage!
We sadly awaited our journey home as my Mum really enjoys her annual sunshine holiday, but we were unconcerned about the forthcoming Ryanair flight. The day arrives and all goes well at checking in although inexplicably both hold cases went under mother’s name. Hey ho, no charge, so didn’t rock the boat.
We arrive at the boarding gate having been asked by all and sundry many times – can Mum climb stairs – emphatically NO. Can she walk – NOT REALLY just minimally, with great difficulty. Okay they say no problem. First through the boarding gate, great. Then unexpectedly loaded onto the disability wagon. ‘Why haven’t we loaded through the tunnel?’ me thinks.
OH NO we are loading at the rear! The special assistance crew shrug their shoulders “Ryanair don’t let us load from the front”. This time, thankfully they have a narrow seat and can transport Mum down the aisle (no offer of this from special assistance at Luton airport!).
But Ryanair are running late so they let the regular passengers board before the disabled had finished boarding! No chance now of Mum boarding for quite some time and the wind is getting up on the small gangway we are waiting on and the engines start to roar.
We reach our seats, Mum is loaded into the aisle seat, and I’m frantically signalling from behind that I should get in first, as the middle seat is mine. All is ignored! Everything’s a rush as the flight is behind schedule. I now have to clamber over Mum to get to my seat. What a farce!
I loudly complained I would never fly Ryanair again – disgusting. I was thinking to myself as I said it that airlines have zero tolerance to disruptive passengers and maybe they’d attempt to throw a 95-year-old off the plane! I almost (but not quite) wished they’d try.
No approach by Ryanair crew throughout the flight. No apology – Nothing!
My only recourse is to let others know how disappointed and angry we are in the treatment of a 95-year-old lady who still has, even with considerable pain, the grit and determination to enjoy time with her family.