A disabled man who was stranded on a plane for two hours has vowed never to walk through Manchester Airport again.
Ray King, 68, who suffers from osteoarthritis in both knees and one hip, landed on a Jet2.com flight from Dalaman, Turkey at 4.45pm earlier this month.
Ray’s wife, Pauline, had pre-booked assistance to help him from the plane and through the hub, as he cannot negotiate steps or walk long distances.
However, upon landing and after all the other passengers had disembarked, Ray claims they and another couple waited another two hours for ABM assistance agency staff – despite repeated attempts by the cabin and crew to speed up the process.
The plane was due to leave for Sicily at 6:15 p.m., but the delay meant the next group of passengers wouldn’t leave until after 8 p.m., Ray says.
In the meantime, he says he was taken on an outpatient basis to the terminal where, with the support of his wife, he had to walk the journey to passport control as no wheelchairs were available, although that he asked for one.
It comes days after BBC journalist Frank Gardner found himself in a similar situation when there were not enough staff at Heathrow Airport to retrieve his wheelchair, leaving him stuck in a plane.
Ray King, pictured here with his wife Pauline, was stuck on a Jet2.com plane at Manchester Airport for two hours while waiting for help
Speaking to Manchester Evening News, Ray said his ordeal at Manchester Airport was a huge contrast to his experience in Turkey.
“Despite needing a wheelchair to negotiate the many areas of the airport, I was thrown out a door and told ‘there’s the elevator,'” he said. Without my wife’s help, I would have been helpless.
“The two captains of Jet2.com, the one who flew us in and the one who arrived to transport the next passengers, were amazing and really tried to help. I don’t blame the airline, they did their best.
“When they finally picked us up they had no wheelchairs left after the ride to the terminal so I just had to walk a bit, sit down, then walk again and suffer with the help of my woman.
“We will never go through Manchester Airport again. It was the complete opposite at Dalaman, they couldn’t help enough.
“We live equidistant from Newcastle and Leeds and we go three times a year. We have always traveled from Manchester but will no longer do so.
“Even in the terminal there were no lights on and we had to shout to call the passport control officer.
“Our luggage was just on the floor and my wife had to go hunting. No explanation, no staff.
Ray said the staff on the plane were “amazing and really tried to help” but despite their best efforts he was left there for over two hours. Pictured is a Jet2.com plane (file photo)
A Manchester Airport spokesperson said Mr King had been in touch with their customer feedback team and confirmed it was the ABM agency that had handled the special assistance request.
It is understood that a “technical breakdown” on the day in question may have contributed to the incident.
He added: “We are sorry to hear that this passenger had a disappointing experience upon arrival.
“Our entire industry is currently facing resource challenges, after the most damaging two years in its history.
“This not only includes airports and airlines, but also third parties operating on our site, including special assistance providers who are responsible for supporting passengers such as Mr King with additional requirements.
“We will continue to work with our partners to understand the challenges they face, alleviate those pressures in the meantime, and deliver the best possible passenger experience.”
An ABM spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of the special assistance service we provide to passengers, and it is essential to provide this service with efficiency, respect and care.”
“We regret whenever our service falls short of this standard and are working with our teams and partners to review Mr. King’s experience.
“We are currently experiencing higher volumes of passengers requiring special assistance than our busiest pre-pandemic peak, while the industry as a whole continues to face resource challenges.
“We know we are not the only ones dealing with these issues and understand the inconvenience and emotional impact all of this can have on people traveling, especially those who need extra assistance.
“We are working collaboratively with all of our customers and partners to minimize the impact as we navigate this phase of the pandemic recovery.”
It comes days after BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was left in a similar situation after there were ‘no staff to remove his wheelchair’ when he landed at the Heathrow airport.
The veteran journalist, who has used a wheelchair since he was shot six times by militants in Saudi Arabia in 2004, accused the airport of treating passengers with disabilities as “the lowest priority”.
He was on a flight from Estonia when he had no way to get off the plane due to lack of staff to retrieve his wheelchair.
Security correspondent Frank Gardner was left on the empty flight from Estonia and says he was told no staff were available to help him off the plane
Tweeting about the incident, which took place on May 15, the 60-year-old said: “It happened again. Stuck on an empty plane at Heathrow Airport long after everyone had left – “no staff to get my wheelchair out of the plane”.
“I’m SO disappointed with @HeathrowAirport as passengers with disabilities are again seemingly the lowest priority.”
About 22 minutes after his initial tweet, he confirmed he was “in the terminal as I assume all the other passengers are on their way home.”
A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport responded on Twitter: “Hello Frank, we wholeheartedly apologize for this incident and regret that the service did not live up to the experience we aim to achieve. offer to Heathrow.”
“We are looking into this urgently and if you have any other information you would like to share with us please feel free to DM us.”
Mr Gardner said his latest issues were ‘incredibly minor’ considering the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, but it was ‘reprehensible’ how often ‘cr**p treatment’ is given to people disabilities.