An air passenger who was supposed to be given special assistance was put on the wrong flight and flown to the wrong country last week, Easyjet has admitted.
The flight to Faro in Portugal was due to take off from Glasgow Airport in Scotland last Wednesday. The plane missed its slot and remained waiting on the runway for well over an hour full of other passengers while staff attempted to find the missing flyer.
According to statements by fellow passengers, staff had already “lost” the person in question even before the flight boarded.
Passenger Ryan McCormick told Glasgow Live that he “knew something was up” while waiting at the boarding gate.
“One of the assistance staff was looking for somebody and asking all the elderly female passengers their names. We all boarded and sat waiting to taxi on the runway.”
According to McCormick, the pilot then informed those waiting on board that there would be a delay due to a missing passenger. Police came and went and the passenger’s luggage was removed from the plane before it could take off.
It later emerged the woman had been erroneously put on a different plane and flown to Bristol, England, over 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) away from where she should have landed.
The incident is the latest in a series where passengers needing additional assistance have been let down by appalling transport services. In recent years, rail passengers in wheelchairs have been stranded on platforms or left unable disembark at all and forced to travel way beyond their destination due to a lack of staff to help them.
In one particularly egregious example, a passenger was left sitting in their own urine for hours due to unsuitably designed toilets, then left waiting at a bus stop until 5am. And last summer Victoria Brignell, who is paralysed from the neck down, was left on a plane at Gatwick for an hour and a half after other passengers had disembarked due to a lack of staff to assist her.
As well as raising serious questions about how well disabled passengers’ rights are implemented and protected, the Glasgow Easyjet incident sparks security concerns over how the passenger was able to travel on a flight they were not booked on.
In the words of McCormick: “How do you manage to lose someone and how did this person get on a separate aircraft without a boarding pass?
“If she was with a member of staff I assume they had her passport. How is it possible to end up in the wrong country?”
An easyJet spokesperson told The Independent: “A passenger boarded the incorrect aircraft at Glasgow Airport on Wednesday 10 May and travelled to Bristol. As soon as this was realised, it was arranged for them to fly from Bristol to Faro, their original destination. The passenger was looked after by our team throughout.
“The safety and well-being of our passengers and crew is always easyJet’s number one priority. We are currently investigating with the airport and their special assistance provider, and our ground handler at Glasgow how the passenger boarded the wrong flight.
“We would like to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.”