Blind friends 'disgusted' after airline says they are not allowed to fly alone as they couldn't perform 'safety-related actions'

Thomson said all passengers must be able to put on a life jacket and oxygen mask without help

Two blind friends who were refused flights because the airline said they couldn't perform "safety-related actions" have said they were "disgusted" by the decision.

Lauren Wigglesworth, from Urmston in Greater Manchester, and Stephen Sherwood, from Hereford, planned to fly to Majorca, Spain, in May.

Before the flight, they requested help putting on life jackets, and Thomson Holidays told them they couldn't fly.

The company said all passengers must be able to put on a life jacket and oxygen mask without help.

After returning their special assistance forms, the pair were given two options: to take a sighted person to assist them, or cancel the holiday.

Ms Wigglesworth, 27, said: "I was disgusted with Thomson. I felt very let down.

"Taking someone with me defeats the object of going abroad for the first time without parents and we can't really afford to take anybody with us."

When the holiday was booked, she said a Thomson assistant reassured her mother a disability team would help the pair while onboard.

Ms Wigglesworth's mother Dawn said: "They said they could look after Lauren from the minute she got on the plane at Manchester Airport to the minute she landed back home, and all her needs would be catered for."

In a statement, Thomson said: "We are sorry to hear of Ms Wigglesworth's disappointment at not being able to travel to Majorca."

The company said the pair had informed it they were unable to carry out "safety-related actions" including putting on a life jacket without help, and that the requirements were part of "the Department of Transport's Code of Practice that has been confirmed by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, to which Thomson and every other UK airline must adhere".

"Unfortunately, as Ms Wigglesworth and [Mr Sherwood] are not able to complete these without assistance, we are not able to allow them to travel unaccompanied.

"We have therefore offered Ms Wigglesworth a full refund or the option to add a passenger to her booking who could assist her and [Mr Sherwood] on their trip."

Natalie Doig, campaigns officer for the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said flight regulations did not stipulate that blind people needed to be accompanied.

She said: "(The regulations) basically say that any blind or partially sighted person has the right to board a plane and fly on that aeroplane anywhere in Europe.

"They may need an air steward just to show them exactly where the life jacket is underneath their seat... and just describe to them how to put it on.

"There must be hundreds of blind or partially sighted people flying every day in this country. I really think this makes a nonsense of the regulations."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high