Wheelchair-bound pensioner stranded at Alicante Airport

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© Phillip Lange/Shutterstock
Alicante airport.

A BRITISH wheelchair user was left stranded at Alicante-Elche airport for 24 hours, after staff failed to assist him in boarding his flight.

Billy Howard, 73, was supposed to travel to Manchester Airport on a Ryanair flight, with standard procedure being that wheelchairs board after the remainder of the passengers, but no-one arrived to help him, and he was left helpless as the aircraft taxied towards the runway.

Mr Howard is in constant pain due to arthritis, and struggles to walk by himself, with a relative describing him as being “in floods of tears.”

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A member of staff should have wheeled the grandfather-of-nine, who is from Leigh in Greater Manchester, onto a special vehicle that lifts the wheelchair level with the plane’s door, with the system working perfectly on his outbound journey.

“I was left stranded,” he said. “I heard my name being called on the airport tannoy and twice told Ryanair and airport staff that I had booked the wheelchair assistance service and needed them to board me on my plane, but they ignored me and then the plane went without me.

“They didn’t apologise at all, they just offered me a flight to Bradford.”

The situation was further complicated because the ex-builder had given his hand luggage and mobile phone to his companion, who was only able to raise the alarm upon arrival in Manchester.

“I sat in the airport for more than five hours with nothing…my bag with my mobile phone, money and painkillers, which I need for my arthritis, was on the plane.”

Mr Howard’s partner Gloria Edwards, aged 61, was eventually alerted by his friend and called the airport, after which a room was arranged in a nearby hotel, where he spent the night before flying home at 5.05pm the following day.

Ryanair claim that no wheelchair assistance had been pre-booked.

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