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Crappy wheelchair assistance at airport

(188 Posts)
Booboostwo Mon 13-Mar-17 18:07:58

Today I was traveling with 5yo DD from Toulouse to Manchester. I have a herniated disc (waiting for op) and have trouble standing but I can walk slowly with a cane and I am OK sitting so I thought it sensible to book wheelchair assistance at the airport.

We turned up 1.5 hours before the flight, as advised, and checked in immediately at which point we were asked to sit and wait for the assistance. We were advised it would be a while which I assumed would be 10 minutes but turned out to be a 45 minute wait. Another passenger was also waiting one hour for the same flight.

When the assistant turned up he was very rude and in a huge hurry. He was very rude to another passenger who wanted to ask how long his wheelchair was going to be and then pushed me so fast DD could not keep up. When I asked him to slow down he said he was walking normally and she should just keep up! It might sound a bit OTT but I was genuinely stressed with DD behind me, so that I couldn't see her in a busy airport.

When we got to security he was, miraculously, less in a hurry and greeted all his mates with kisses and told them about the 'rude' passenger who had tried to delay him. (Spending longer telling the story than he would have spent replying to the man).

Now this was a rude guy but the delay meant we never got to stop for food (flight was at 14:30 so DD didn't get any lunch until on the plane at 15h), we didn't stop at the play area and god help us if we needed the toilet!

Is this standard and to be expected? We spent ages waiting at check in, when I complained I was told I could walk to the restaurant at the other end of the airport which kind of defeated the wheelchair purpose and that I might miss the assistance person then! So we were stuck waiting and then rushed on board.

Booboostwo Mon 13-Mar-17 18:41:40

So clearly this was too boring!! grin

Did i mention the buggy? There was a woman with a buggy who refused to fold it for my wheelchair! Anyone now?

PamplemousseRouge Mon 13-Mar-17 19:02:38

Sorry to hear about your experience OP flowers how are you feeling?

Have you looked into contacting the airport to complain or to let them know (although I know you mentioned that you raised the issue of the wait at the time)?

rjay123 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:05:22

So your issue was in Toulouse?

Alice212 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:09:45

Sorry to hear you had this, def complain
I had to use wheelchair assistance at a station years ago, the guy didn't actually want to his job. It wasn't clear to whom I should complain, station, train company etc but all parties claimed it was contracted out.

Then I copied my local MP to all parties and got apologies from all parties. This was nearly 20 years ago, sad that it still happens.

Def complain, it is appalling that people get treated like this. On the other hand, my parents have used the airport wheelchair assistance and been fine but these employers can only sack the horrible folk if you complain.

Penfold007 Mon 13-Mar-17 19:12:35

Does sound as though you and DD have had a rough day. Expecting passenger assistance to stop to allow you to eat and your daughter to use the play area was unrealistic. You should bring your negative experience to the attention of Toulouse Airport customer service.

AppleMagic Mon 13-Mar-17 19:16:11

Dedinitely complain about the rudeness and the walking too fast for your child to keep up.

But I'd assume that the assistance would be to take you directly from the check in, through security, to the gate so I wouldn't have expected to be able to get food/visit play area.

araiwa Mon 13-Mar-17 19:32:42

so you complain that you had to wait and that he rushed even though you knew others were waiting for the same service

sometimes things aren't perfect

Booboostwo Mon 13-Mar-17 19:55:54

Yes it was Toulouse and yes I will complain in writing.

I am a bit surprised some posters think it is standard for wheelchair users to not have time to get food/drink, take their kids to the play area, do some shopping or even visit the toilet. If that is that case it's bloody unacceptable.

araiwa things were far from perfect. I did expect not to have to wait, I did expect not to be rushed through and I did expect other people not to have to wait either. They should provide enough special assistants to cover demands. Otherwise what is the alternative? Cap the number of wheelchair users that can fly in any one day? Push you half way there and expect you to walk the rest?

MrsTrentReznor Mon 13-Mar-17 19:58:34

I got dumped at the gate at Gatwick in a wheelchair.
Had to get to the taxi with my boyfriend pushing me, our hand luggage on my lap and me dragging our wheeled luggage.
It was fucking atrocious.
I complained, and the supervisor in charge of my flight was "retrained"
I got given some Gatwick vouchers, but I'm unlikely to use Gatwick any time soon.
Complain on the airport contact us page. They took a while to reply but they took it really seriously.

ThePinkOcelot Mon 13-Mar-17 20:01:00

In all honesty OP, I don't think you could have expected the helper to hand around while your dd had a play. I don't find that unacceptable at all. Maybe going through the airport at break neck speed, but not a lot else tbh!

araiwa Mon 13-Mar-17 20:01:07

you made your flight

45 minutes sat at one end or the other

i would imagine wheelchair support demand is highly variable and today was busy, so there was a small wait

ThePinkOcelot Mon 13-Mar-17 20:01:17

Hang around

RedBugMug Mon 13-Mar-17 20:03:28

yabu
def complain

when I broke my foot airport assistance was great for me and 1yo dc. they were really quick (after a long wait) but very gentle and really helpful with dc.
that airport used the red cross - they got a nice donation and thank you note from me!

Kiroro Mon 13-Mar-17 20:06:23

You really expected for the assistance guy stop whilst your child had a play in the play area?

unweavedrainbow Mon 13-Mar-17 20:06:39

I'm a wheelchair user. Tbh, this is pretty standard. Long waits usually before and after security before boarding, a long wait to get off the plane and then a long wait at the other end. Forget about duty free or anything like that. The most scary part is being separated from my very expensive electric wheelchair. Just because it's normal doesn't make it right though...

witsender Mon 13-Mar-17 20:09:01

I think expecting assistance to wait while you eat and play is a little OTT. They are there to help you get to the plane and that's it. This is in part why my mum brings her own chair.

unweavedrainbow Mon 13-Mar-17 20:10:58

witsender if you want the chair to go in the hold then you need to check it when you check luggage. It's really difficult to let my chair go and be stuck with the crappy airport chair.

GoldenBlue Mon 13-Mar-17 20:14:46

The wheelchair assistance is intended to help you to get from the check in to the airplane safely. It is unrealistic to expect the scarce resource to wait around whilst your child plays, they should facilitate the loo but I think it's unrealistic to expect any more. Most airports target the ensuring that all of their passengers with needs are helped in good time, and realistically the target is to ensure they all make their planes. People are supposed to book help but many don't so the requirement is very unpredictable. The work is constant and hard, and often travellers are grumpy. And some have unrealistic expectations.
I'm sorry the chap was grumpy with you, and he should have attempted to help the other traveller but your expectations are beyond first class services, were you paying for a dedicated resource for an hour? Unlikely, and the worker probably has to move several other passengers in the the time you felt should have been made available to you alone.

Booboostwo Mon 13-Mar-17 20:17:47

Of course I expected to be able to eat and my child to be able to play while I used a wheelchair! The assistant could have left us in the restaurant next to the play area and could have been contactable by phone to get us later. Are posters seriously suggesting that only able bodied passengers get to use these services? I am lucky to have never had to rely on a wheelchair before but I certainly know about the duty to provide reasonable adjustments and have done so at my job.

araiwa Mon 13-Mar-17 20:20:23

then there would have been a thread about you missing your plane after you were left at the play area

witsender Mon 13-Mar-17 20:21:39

It's a shame they don't make chairs available that are wheelable by the occupant.

unweavedrainbow Mon 13-Mar-17 20:21:41

You're not asking for the impossible but IME fairly unrealistic... In Schiphol I was sped past the duty free so fast it was quite disconcerting. Now it is a truly enormous airport so I kinda get why it was done that way but it's still not very fair.

Booboostwo Mon 13-Mar-17 20:30:22

araiwa as I said I arrived at the airport 1.5 hours before a short haul flight with no luggage to hand in - that should have been sufficient time to get something to eat and relax by the soft play area. My DD is here for an appointment at the rare bone diseases clinic and deserves a pleasant experience at the airport as much as other kids. Having to run behind my wheelchair is unacceptable.

MooseBeTimeForSnow Mon 13-Mar-17 20:30:44

eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32006R1107
Hopefully you will find this useful.

The basic gist of it is that "Assistance given at airports situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies should, among other things, enable disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility to proceed from a designated point of arrival at an airport to an aircraft and from the aircraft to a designated point of departure from the airport, including embarking and disembarking"

I'm sorry but I think you had unrealistic expectations of the service they could provide.

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