Birmingham Airport investigates after paralysed dad is forced to drag himself onto coach

By Harry Kemble
28/02/2023
Home » Birmingham Airport investigates after paralysed dad is forced to drag himself onto coach

Birmingham Airport has launched an investigation into why a 27-year-old dad, who is paralysed from the waist down, had to drag himself onto a coach in front of his young family.

Spencer Watts was flying with his partner Shaunna Rutherford and two children from a family holiday in Lanzarote on 17 February when his Ryanair flight to Bristol was diverted to Birmingham due to poor weather.

Spencer said he told the cabin crew he needed an accessible coach for his transfer outside the terminal.

However, despite being assured by cabin crew that assistance had been arranged, Spencer claimed he and his family found no suitable transport available.

He also claims he was forced to wait 50 minutes to exit the plane as there was no accessible lift to carry him off.

Footage posted on Spencer’s Facebook page shows the disabled father having to haul himself up on to the coach using his upper body strength.

In his Facebook post, Spencer, from Tiverton, Devon, wrote: “I feel completely embarrassed and humiliated leaving myself, my partner and my two children no other option but to shuffle onto a non-accessible coach this evening completely stranded at Birmingham airport due to Ryanair diverting the flight.

“[The flight] was due to land Bristol Airport 15:20 today. To be left on the aircraft with my family for nearly 50 minutes due to no wheelchair accessible lifts to remove me off, to then be reassured there would be an accessible taxi to take me back to Bristol then soon to realise this was not the case and the only option I had was to do this, Swissport, Ryanair, Birmingham Airport you have a lot to answer for.”

Birmingham Airport told Travel Gossip: “We are investigating the circumstances which led to this. Our travel team reacted as swiftly as possible to get Mr Watts off the aircraft and safely into the terminal.

“Airport colleagues then accompanied Mr Watts to staff at the airline’s ground handler, whose job it was to guide affected passengers on to the the onward road transport back to Bristol.”

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “This flight from Alicante to Bristol diverted to Birmingham due to adverse weather conditions at Bristol Airport.

“Special assistance at Birmingham Airport is managed a third-party provider – not Ryanair.

“As the flight was not planned to arrive at Birmingham Airport, special assistance had not been pre-arranged, however the crew of this flight requested special assistance upon arrival at Birmingham Airport, which the provider at Birmingham Airport failed to provide.”

Swissport said it does not make arrangements for passengers requiring special assistance. “This service is provided by a third party contracted by the airport,” the spokesperson added.

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