Nathalie Allport-Grantham was prepared for her trip to Nice. She was going to fly on Ryanair from Stansted Airport on December 31. As Allport-Grantham suffers from Ehlers-Danos syndrome, her mobility is limited, so she had requested assistance when booking her trip. However, she was refused help by Stansted airport staff, as they claimed she didn’t look disabled.
While she does not always require a wheelchair, Nathalie Allport-Grantham has several invisible disabilities that sometimes require one. She and her boyfriend had arrived early and used a wheelchair to move to the lounge area. However, when she moved to a lounge seat, a Stansted Airport staff member took the chair, saying he would return shortly.
He never did, and Allport-Grantham was forced to walk to the Ryanair gate five minutes away. When she arrived, she spoke to the woman who was working the gate. “I told her I had pre-booked disability assistance and I need help getting onto the aircraft,” Allport-Grantham said. She was reportedly told by the Stansted Airport staff member that she would have to pay to have someone help her with her bags.
Even though Nathalie Allport-Grantham had booked all of her assistance ahead of time, the staff member refused to believe that she was disabled. Allport-Grantham attempted to explain her condition to the staff member. She said that lifting anything heavy could cause her serious injuries such as torn muscles or ruptured organs, and said the staff member replied by saying “Maybe next time don’t bring a heavy bag then.”
“I’ve got disabled people to help and you are wasting their time,” the staff member reportedly said. Allport-Grantham was reduced to tears but was eventually helped by another Stansted Airport staff member who noticed her name on the registry for disabled assistance. She was eventually helped onto the plane, but the experience left her less than satisfied.
Nathalie Allport-Grantham contacted the companies on Twitter to voice her complaint. Stansted Airport issued an apology and said that it is looking into the incident. RyanAir also responded to Allport-Grantham, saying “While we regret any inconvenience caused…London Stansted is responsible for [wheelchair] service and any problems with it.”
Allport-Grantham has had similar experiences in the past and wants companies and their employees to be more aware. “It isn’t the first time this has happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last,” Allport-Grantham said, “I want to make a fuss because I believe big companies have a responsibility not only to follow the law but also to educate their staff.”
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