A wheelchair user recently slammed easyJet online for its ‘Special Assistance’ policy that does not allow disabled people from traveling alone. In other words, they need to shell out double to travel with a companion.
Katie Pennick, 23, from London, recently took to Twitter and posted a series of direct messages exchanged with the airline. The post went immediately viral.
She tweeted that the company’s policy requires wheelchair users to pay double as they have to travel with someone else.
When she asked if she can fly unaccompanied on an easyJet flight, Katie was told no, with the staff member replying: ‘Airline staff aren’t allowed to offer assistance due to health and safety rules (they’re not even allowed to put passengers bags in the overhead lockers).’
They further explained her that the mandatory companion could buy a ticket for the same price as the disabled flyer.
Thousands came to support Katie expressing displeasure over the statements made by the representative.
One commented: ‘Total rubbish. Of course onboard staff have to help. They are legally required to be trained to do so and insured as well. It’s time the airline industry woke up.’
Katie shared screenshots of the conversations. She tweeted: ‘Disabled passengers are not permitted to fly unaccompanied. Is there a concession for this *mandatory* companion ticket? No.’
She went on: ‘It’s either pay double or don’t fly at all. I fail to see how this is not a breach of the Equality Act.’
She also hashtagged the post #TheCostOfBeingDisabled.
In an exchange with a representative, she asked further clarification on the policy, saying: ‘Can you please confirm that it is your policy to not allow disabled passengers with limited mobility – who cannot independently make their way to exits in an emergency – to fly unaccompanied?’
The easyJet employee responded: ‘I’m afraid so, this is because airline staff aren’t allowed to offer assistance due to health and safety rules (they’re not even allowed to put passengers bags in overhead lockers).
‘This is why we advise on our website that if you do require assistance onboard you would need to bring a companion.’
Katie went on to ask: ‘So do you offer concessions for companions, considering we are not permitted to travel without them?’
The representative responded: ‘Our prices go up as each seat sells, so we guarantee that we’ll charge your companion the same amount that you paid, and no more.’
Katie’s tweet is now liked by more than 2,000 people, with hundreds commenting on the policy, calling it ‘a disgrace’, ‘total rubbish’, and ‘outrageous’.
One wrote: ‘Really? This is a disgrace. Obvious discrimination. EasyJet should just print all welcome unless you are disabled. We should take our money elsewhere.’
Another commented: ‘A carer’s/companion’s ticket needs to be provided for free if those with limited mobility are unable to travel without one. Otherwise, a person’s freedom to travel as others do, is seriously restricted.’
One added: ‘Not even allowed to put bags in overhead lockers?? That’s a load of rubbish.
‘I’ve seen plenty of air stewardess helping out, pushing (actually shoving/squashing) bags in overhead lockers! I hope you’ve done something about this.’
A spokesperson for the airline later said: ‘EasyJet flies thousands of passengers everyday who require special assistance and we do our utmost to understand and provide for their needs and enhance the quality of their experience at the airport and onboard.
‘For the safety of all onboard, passengers with reduced mobility are required to answer safety questions prior to their flight. We only require them to travel with a companion if they cannot meet these safety requirements and if this is the case we will guarantee that the cost of the companion’s seat is the same price regardless of when it is booked.
‘The safety and well-being of its passengers and crew is our highest priority and we do our best to ensure that all passengers can fly with us safely and comfortably. We have made direct contact with Katie to discuss this with her.’
Source – Daily Mail