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Airline Refuses Wheelchair For Ailing Cancer Patient

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

CHARLESTOWN, IRELAND--Ryanair, Britain's low-fare airline, has managed to do it again: They've found a way to make life a bit more difficult for a passenger needing just a little help.

According to the August 30 Irish Post, a Ryanair employee refused last week to provide a wheelchair for Tony Cafferkey when he showed up at Knock International Airport for his flight to Stansted Airport in England.

That same employee even went so far as to take away a wheelchair that a sympathetic security guard had given Cafferkey.

Cafferkey reportedly boarded using his grandchild's buggy.

A Ryanair spokesperson later apologized for Mr. Cafferkey's inconvenience and distress, but added that everything would have been okay if Cafferkey had requested the wheelchair when he originally booked the flight.

Ryanair added that the plane already had the airline's limit of four wheelchair users.

But Cafferkey, who has cancer, ordinarily does not use a wheelchair. His family said he became weakened and found it painful to walk after the trip to visit his sister.

This is not the first time Ryanair has run into conflicts with passengers with disabilities.

In 2004, a British court found the airline guilty of discriminating against passenger Bob Ross because it charged him a £18 fee (about $28 US) each way to provide him a wheelchair at Stansted airport. The court ordered Ryanair to pay Ross £1,336 ($2,435 US) and change its policy.

Last September, the airline angered disability groups when it ejected six blind and three partially-sighted passengers from a flight bound for Italy from Stansted airport. Ryanair officials said there were too many people with disabilities on board, creating a safety risk.

Responding to pressure from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and other disability groups, Ryanair announced in November that it had changed its policy so that blind passengers traveling with sighted companions could fly without having to notify the airline that they have a disability, and that they would no longer be counted in the airline's limit of four travelers with disabilities per flight.

Sick passenger refused wheelchair at Knock (Irish Post)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.