The Civil Aviation Authority is formally investigating allegations filed by a stroke survivor against Thomas Cook Airlines.
Stroke survivor Kevin Burns suffered a near fatal stroke in January of 2011 which left him with severe speech impairment, paralysis to his right arm and severe reduction of movement to his right leg.
This summer, Kevin's wife Elaine and his brother Adrian booked a holiday with Thomas Cook. Kevin's wife made sure the Tour Operator was fully aware of her husband's health and needs months before their departure date.
On 20 July, Thomas Cook confirmed Kevin had been reserved medical extra leg room seat and that he needed help since he was unable to ascend or descend ramps.
What was supposed a dream holiday and a significant step in Kevin's rehabilitation, turned into nightmare upon boarding their Thomas Cook airlines flight from London Gatwick to Punta Cana.
Despite existing confirmed reservation, Kevin medical seat had been sold to an able bodied passenger. The severely disabled man ended up confined in a standard seat and spent time on board in constant pain. To make things even worse, there was no assistance available to help Kevin off the aircraft in Punta Cana.
Kevin Burns was helped descend the steep steps by his brother Adrian and his wife Elaine. Because of the ordeal, Kevin suffered the swelling of his right ankle.
Kevin's return to the UK was no better experience. The stroke survivor had once again to walk up the steps to the plane with the help of his wife and brother. Upon boarding the aircraft, Kevin discovered he was once again denied the pre booked medical seat, which had been sold to able-bodied passengers for an extra fee.
"I spent the entire journey close to tears with anger and frustration at the treatment my brother Kevin received; I can honestly say that an animal transported abroad would probably be treated better," the stroke survivor's brother told Reduced Mobility Rights.
"We would like to unreservedly apologise to Mr Burns and his family for his recent experience with us," A spokesperson for Thomas Cook told Reduced Mobility Rights on Monday. “We are undertaking a full and thorough review, and we would like to thank Mr Burns for his patience whilst we complete this. We'd like to reassure him that we're taking all his concerns very seriously and will respond to him shortly.”
On Tuesday, the CAA acknowledged receipt of the incident report. “The CAA is aware of Mr Burns’ case and is in the process of taking it up with Thomas Cook to find out what happened," A CAA spokesperson told Reduced Mobility Rights. "The Civil Aviation Authority is there to protect people if they do not receive the support they need."
The spokesperson for the CAA also clarified one key aspect in Kevin Burns' incident, the lack of assistance at Punta Cana airport. "Airlines are obliged to pass on correctly the request for assistance to both the departure and arrival airport," he said.