Ryanair management deny discriminating against passengers with disabilities while the airline's passengers allege this is the case.
An article focusing on Ryanair's policy of limiting the number of passengers with reduced mobility per flight to four and possible changes to this policy in light of new EU laws ignited a lively debate among readers of this website.
"Ryanair is awful to disable passengers," Glynis Barker posted on Reduced Mobility Rights Facebook Page. "Once my Friend and I went to the airport to go on holiday, we went to check in then they said did you book the wheelchair, we said no. Ryanair told us to go home. And then Steve had come pick us up from the airport. And the next day Steve took us back to the airport. Imagine the cost."
"Anyone who has been on one of these flights would notice the extreme youth and apparent lack of expertise among their staff, as well as the exceedingly cramped space and minimal staff. If I were disabled I would have very great doubts about the ability of the staff to safely move a disabled person off of the flight safely," Sentinel Red posted.
Reader Dawn Assefa spoke of her own experience with Ryanair limits for passengers with disabilities. "Last year we went with another airline because they told us disabled quota was full online.my daughter has autism and epilepsy."
Ryanair denies imposing restrictive limits on passengers with disabilities. "Ryanair continue to operate
The Irish low cost carrier maintained that the maximum of four passengers with reduced mobility were agreed and put in place in 1995 after discussions with the Irish Wheelchair Association in Ireland and the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) in the UK. However, both the DRC and Mr Massie denied providing guidance to Ryanair on limits to the numbers of disabled passengers able to board flights.
The European Aviation Safety Agency final report on carriage by air of Special Categories of Passengers deals another blow to Ryanair's safety concern upon which the limit was introduced. “Results of this show that evacuation of certain special categories of passengers (SCPs) [such has passengers with severe reduced mobility] leads to delays of the evacuation. According to the findings of the analysed studies and the risk assessment, the cabin crew should be responsible primarily for the evacuation of the entire aircraft and only then for the evacuation of individuals. It is not recommended to task the cabin crew primarily with the evacuation of SCPs or to obligate them to assist."
"Ryan Air is awful when it comes to passengers with reduced mobility. Firstly they often do not let PRM to be first on board. Imagine how hard is to board WCHC with other passengers on board," Michal Kosmala posted on Reduced Mobility Rights Facebook page. "Secondly they are not tuning off APU so when it comes to wait in ambulift next to the plane's tail it is easy to damage you ears. Also, many of PSMs are missing so when unexpected passengers from arrival wait for PRM service to come they board passengers for departure. The last thing is that they tend to not use IATA PRM codes."
Reader Pam Krutsch begs to differ. "The problem does not stem from the airlines, it stems from peopleclaiming disabilities just to get on first or thru security first, and families of people with severe disabilities dropping people off and expecting the airlines to take care of everything for them. The abuse is what causes airlines to decide to limit these things. The abuse is unbelievable. I work at an airport and it’s a huge burden for the employees and airline staffing, because those who don’t need it, want to be self-centred and inconsiderate for their own personal gain. That’s what has to be stopped."
Reader Ollie Starr thinks the problem goes beyond airlines. "Which isn’t to say that its good, but it’s an issue not even remotely limited to planes, or even to transport? Many places have *a* wheelchair space, but cannot accommodate a group of wheelchair users."
"America has the right idea. If you’re disabled they make sure there's enough space on their buses and flights. They have seats on buses which fold right back. There is discrimination in the UK. It's not about health and safety it’s about cost and profit!" reader Rachael Rosanne Armstrong said.
Ryanair is renowned for thriving on controversy, and the row over the limits imposed on passengers with disabilities is just the latest example of the Irish low cost carrier's well known cliché.
After all, Ryanair’s founder Michael O’Leary built a solid reputation on controversy. "Anyone who thinks Ryanair flights are some sort of bastion of sanctity where you can contemplate your navel is wrong. We already bombard you with as many in-flight announcements and trolleys as we can. Anyone who looks like sleeping, we wake them up to sell them things.”
However, one of his most controversial quotes is about overweight passengers. “Nobody wants to sit beside a really fat ****** on board. We have been frankly astonished at the number of customers who don't only want to tax fat people but torture them.”
The budget airline request to correct what they allege to be “false and inaccurate” information did not come
Reader Darren Lonsdale may have the quick fix to put the row to rest. “Don't fly with Ryan air. There we are, problem solved.”
Do you think Ryanair should maintain its current limits on passengers with reduced mobility? Have your say.
About the author
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Reduced Mobility Rights, Roberto Castiglioni is an expert consultant of PRM regulations and disabled passengers support procedures, and has personal experience as travelling partner and carer of a passenger with reduced mobility.
Roberto is a member of the UK Civil Aviation Authority Access To Air Travel Working Group. He is also a member of the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group. Chaired by David Blunkett MP, the independent advisory group esaag provides Easyjet with strategic guidance and practical advice on the evolving needs of passengers requiring special assistance.