Disabled woman left stranded on tarmac after plane takes off without her

Shocked passenger watched flight take off after arriving on shuttle lift

Ella Doyle
Tuesday 04 October 2022 09:01 BST
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A disabled passenger was left stranded on the tarmac at Newcastle Airport after the plane she was about to board took off without her.

Margaret Harrop, 76, and her husband John were due to fly out to Alicante, Spain on Ryanair flight FR4080 on Wednesday 28 September. They had planned to visit their son Keith, who they hadn’t seen since he moved there in 2020.

But as the couple were about to board, they noticed their luggage was being removed from the aircraft - and it was about to take off.

John told LADbible: “We got one of these shuttle lifts that raises you up and puts you in the plane if you’re disabled, and we could see people getting onto the other side of the plane.

“We couldn’t see their faces, but then we started to see one or two bags being taken off and Margaret said to me, ‘that’s our bag’. I said, ‘it can’t be’.

“We were standing there for about 25 minutes and then all of a sudden, the plane started to move and Margaret said, ‘that plane’s moving,’ and I said of course it wasn’t, we’re not on it yet! But it was.

“The bloke in charge of the shuttle was mumbling and he said there’s been an issue, but he wouldn’t say any more.”

Special assistance provided by Newcastle Airport arrived at the plane after it had closed for boarding, according to the airline.

After the couple notified staff, they were taken back to the terminal along with five other passengers who had also been left behind. The group were then offered a new flight at 6am the next day, and a taxi home or complimentary stay in the airport hotel that night.

Margaret said she felt “disappointed” with the way the event was handled, especially as her son had been waiting for her flight to arrive in Spain. She said: “It was a bit of a nightmare, we don’t really know whose fault it was because we never got to know. We still don’t know the full story.”

She continued: “It was so, so annoying and we were disappointed not only because we didn’t get there on Wednesday, but because nobody informed us about anything.”

“All my medication was in the case and I didn’t know whether it was on the plane or not – I’ve got it now, but nobody told us anything. We were there in loads of time, everybody was. We were just sitting in the departure lounge until they came for us – it wasn’t any of our faults because we were already there.

“It just shouldn’t have happened, if it’d been the other way and I had been able to just been able to walk up the stairs, I would have been on my holidays.”

The couple’s son Keith added: “I was really annoyed just by the way they were treated. My mam has bad mobility with her legs, high blood pressure and a few medical conditions, stress is the last thing she needs.”

A spokesperson for Ryanair told The Independent: “Special assistance at Newcastle Airport is provided by a third party – not by Ryanair.

“We are disappointed that the third party provider at Newcastle Airport failed to fulfil their responsibility to these passengers prior to this flight closing causing them to miss their flight.”

A spokesperson for Newcastle Airport told The Independent: "Following investigation, we can confirm that seven passengers that were assisted with their journey through the airport were unable to travel.

“The passengers arrived at the aircraft in advance of the scheduled departure time but were not permitted to board the aircraft. Newcastle Airport assisted all customers affected by ensuring they departed on the next available flight.”

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