Budget airline Easyjet is once again accused of discrimination against the disabled, after reports of a 39-year-old British national thrown off a flight at Gatwick airport.
Update 18 January 2012, 21.20 PM BST: UK CAA Warns Easyjet Over Martin Sabry Debacle
Martin Sabry, 39, from Cambridge, is the latest victim of Easyjet's hard line on disabled passengers. Mr Sabry was the victim of a serious accident 17 years ago which left him paralyzed from the chest down. He is wheelchair bound since. He is a seasoned traveller, having flown hundreds of time.
On 4 January 2012, Martin Sabry arrived at Gatwick airport to board the Easyjet flight to Montpellier, France. He check-in on time cleared standard security screenings and boarded the airplane. Once on board, the flight's purser approached him.
The purser asked him if he could make his way to the emergency exit. "I explained I am paralysed from the chest down and even though I am quite active, I cannot walk," Martin says.
At this point, the flight's purser asked him to get off the plane, and wait at the boarding gate while all other passengers were boarding the flight. "I Was made to read safety-card aloud in front all other boarding passengers and say "I can" after each sentence," he says, remarking the unnecessary humiliation. "We won’t take you," the purser told him.
"Made to feel like a criminal [because of my disability], trailed in public by a Captain and a Purser with seriously bad personal attitudes," Mr Sabry says.
He insisted to understand the forename and last name of the Captain and the Purser of Easyjet Flight 5053 of 4 January 2012. "I will not give you our surnames," Purser "Rob" said to Martin, who was told the Captain's first name, Vince.
Things appeared to take a positive spin as Ground Control cleared Martin for the flight. However, Captain "Vince" overruled the decision, and left without leaving the disabled passenger at the gate.
Martin Sabry finally managed to speak to an Easyjet ground manager 4 hours after his flight left. He was offered an apology, a flight to Toulouse and a free taxi ride to reach Montpellier, 245 Kilometres away from Toulouse.
Martin Arrived at his original destination at 12 am, with a total delay of 12 hours on his original plan.
"We are very sorry to hear about any inconvenience or upset that was experienced by Dr Sabry on his recent flight," a spokesperson for Easyjet said. "Safety regulations state that all passengers travelling alone must be able to make their way to an emergency exit unaided; However, it seems there was a misunderstanding regarding this."
Easyjet may think an apology and a free taxi ride are sufficient to close this accident, the second serious account of discrimination against disabled passengers involving Easyjet and Gatwick airport in less than a month.
Reduced Mobility Rights believes this accident is a violation of Regulation EU 1107/2006. On this basis, we have referred the accident information to the UK Civil Aviation Authority for further investigation.