Man kicked off Ryanair flight after 595lbs wheelchair was 'too heavy'

Cerebral palsy sufferer, 24, is thrown off Ryanair flight because baggage handlers Swissport said his wheelchair was ‘too heavy’ to be loaded into the hold

  • Brandon Aughton, 24, from Notts, was due to fly to Malaga with his carer Orla 
  • The pair were flying Ryanair from East Midlands Airport, in Derby on October 11 
  • But despite contacting Ryanair in advance to warn of his 595lbs wheelchair, Mr Aughton was kicked off the plane after he was told his chair was ‘too heavy’ 
  • He said he has never previously encountered issues when flying and was ‘angry’ 

A holidaymaker living with cerebral palsy was left furious after he was kicked off his flight because baggage handlers couldn’t lift his wheelchair onto a conveyor belt because it was ‘too heavy’.

Brandon Aughton, 24, from West Bridgford, Nottingham, was due to fly from East Midlands Airport to Malaga with Ryanair along with his carer Orla Hennessey, 41.  

But Mr Aughton, who lives with cerebral palsy, was removed from the plane by the pilot when his specially adapted 595lbs wheelchair could not be loaded into the hold.

 After the pair boarded their flight and left Brandon’s powered chair in the hands of Swissport, the airline’s cargo handling company decided it was too heavy to lift off the conveyor belt and into the hold. 

After a solution could not be found the pilot made the decision that Brandon, whose condition affects his movement and coordination, could not stay on board because of flight schedules being delayed.

Mr Aughton said: ‘I’ve flown twice like that before and never had any issues. I was angry.’

Brandon Aughton, 24, (right) from West Bridgford, Nottingham, was kicked off his flight at East Midlands Airport in Derby alongside his carer Orla Hennessey, 41 (left)

Brandon and Orla were aboard a Ryanair flight to Malaga last month when they were told to leave the aircraft. [File picture]

Orla, who works for carer company Right at Home, said: ‘Brandon got really upset at one point – it felt like no-one wanted to help us. 

‘It was Swissport’s responsibility to put the wheelchair on the plane and tell the ground crew that it needs to go on the plane, but they didn’t do it and there wasn’t any equipment to lift it as it’s a 270kg [595lbs] chair.

‘There were four of them there saying they could not lift it because of health and safety and they unceremoniously booted us off the flight even though we had the letter from Ryanair to say the chair was not too heavy and it could be taken.

‘The lady from Swissport said we gave them wrong information, but we told them they had the information as Ryanair said it was all fine.’

‘When we were going through customs, I was told I had a dangerous item in my bag, but it was an allen key to take apart Brandon’s chair, so I queried this and was told I would be let through this time, but don’t let it happen again.’

Brandon and Orla were able to fly out with Ryanair to Malaga late on Tuesday, October 12 for his first holiday since shielding for two years, but he had to make do with a lighter, manual wheelchair which wasn’t suitable for his needs.

Orla said taking the sub-standard chair was akin to ‘someone taking his legs away from him’ and said it was a ‘distressing’ experience. 

But Brandon still missed out on 48 hours of his holiday – the first trip he has taken in the last two years since he has been shielding. 

Brandon needed to use his specially adapted 595lbs wheelchair for mobility, but was told it was ‘too heavy’ for the plane’s hold

Orla said: ‘Brandon still wanted to go on holiday and a disability holiday agency managed to get flights for us the next day, but we had to take a manual wheelchair – which is completely unacceptable for Brandon’s needs. 

‘He didn’t have his mobility and it’s like taking someone’s legs away from them – it was quite distressing. 

‘My main purpose was to get Brandon on holiday and I was unforgiving towards some people at times, but we wouldn’t have got anywhere quickly otherwise.’

A spokesperson for Swissport said: ‘We are saddened to hear the customer’s claims about an incident at East Midlands Airport.

‘We take our responsibilities towards disabled passengers extremely seriously and understand how important it is that travel for all passengers runs smoothly.’

After a solution could not be found the pilot made the decision that Brandon, whose condition affects his movement and coordination, could not stay on board because of flight schedules being delayed

An East Midlands Airport spokesperson added: ‘We were sorry to learn of the circumstances in which Brandon’s wheelchair was considered too heavy to be loaded onto the aircraft.

‘Having supported Brandon and his companion to the aircraft in one of our specially-adapted vehicles, we were made aware of the handling agent’s decision not to accept his wheelchair. 

‘When a solution could not be found, we escorted him back to the terminal and we understand he was able to re-book a flight the following day.

‘We regularly review and assess all procedures and services – whether they are the direct responsibility of the airport or delivered by the airlines and handling agents that operate from East Midlands.

‘This is to ensure passengers receive the highest standards of customer service at all stages in their journey through the airport.

‘We pride ourselves in the quality of support we offer all customers who need support at the airport. At its last assessment, the Civil Aviation Authorityrated our accessibility services “Very Good”, which is the highest possible rating.’

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: ‘We liaised with this customer directly and this has been resolved.’

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