UK Stops Protecting Disabled Passengers Rights?
- Written by Roberto Castiglioni
A disabled passenger was told by the EHRC, the UK executive body handling complaints for rights violations, it no longer provides help because of funding cuts.
"Unfortunately, due to our funding being cut, we are no longer able to offer conciliation for cases related to EC Air Regulations 1107," Chloe Driver, Helpline Advisor at the Equality and Human Rights Commission told Mrs C.M., a passenger with reduced mobility who recently lodged a complaint against Thomson airlines.
"Due to the recent cases Stott versus Thomas Cook and Hook versus British Airways, the right to compensation where there has been a breach of the EC Air Regulations has been substantially diminished," the EHRC advisor added.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the complaint handling body for the EU regulation protecting the rights of disabled passengers for England, Scotland, and Wales.
Mrs C.M. booked a flight with Thomson airline last November. The passenger, who has reduced mobility as a result of severe osteoarthritis, informed the airline of her condition at the time of booking. She requested her husband to be seated next to her, so he could give her assistance.
Shortly after the booking, Thomson customer services informed the passenger the airline had requested bulkhead seats for her and her husband.
"On the outbound flight TOM 556 there were 5 empty bulkhead seats we were denied use of these seats," C.M. recalls.
The inbound flight went better, but at a cost for the couple. "Thomson has charged us £50 to sit together on the aircraft although it is a requirement for them to sit us together so that proper care can be given," she added.
"We wish to make it clear that this is not a complaint to get compensation from Thomson but firstly to ensure that they and other operators adhere to existing regulations both now and in the future," the couple said.
This is a developing story. Sources within the EHRC confirmed that they are no longer handling complaints filed by disabled passengers. We are expecting comments from the Civil Aviation Authority, the Department for Transport, the Home Office, and the EU Transport Commissioner shortly.