A disabled Stoke City fan has been forced to call police for help after being stuck on a plane at Manchester Airport for two hours.
After finally getting off the plane, Daryl Tavernor, from Cheadle, was then stuck at border control for around 90 more minutes. That’s when the 33-year-old digital marketer called the police for rescue to end his three-and-a-half-hour ordeal.
Daryl, who has spinal muscular atrophy and requires special assistance, was already late as the flight from Rome to Manchester landed at 2.30am after being delayed.
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Daryl told MEN: “I felt like I was being held hostage so I had no choice but to call the police.” He added: “All the other passengers were able to get off the plane as quickly as they could. It usually only takes 10-15 minutes for special assistance to get me off the plane. But it was just me and the crew and the captain stuck another two hours.
“The captain got so upset that he went and got special assistance himself. I was told they didn’t come right away because they don’t usually have planes landing at that time, but they can’t plead ignorance, the captain would have told them all in our way.
“At this point, I’ve been on the plane for five and a half hours, I was extremely uncomfortable and just wanted to be in my chair. The person they sent me really struggled to get me off the plane, I’m not a big guy but this person really had a hard time.”
Daryl needs special assistance to get him off the plane and into his wheelchair which is kept in the hold during the May 26 flight. After landing, the passengers were quickly released from the flight as Daryl began his wait for special assistance personnel, run by a company called ABM, to get him off the plane and into his chair.
Two hours later, Daryl, cabin crew and pilots were still waiting.
The pilots and crew tried to take this into their own hands, seeking out special support personnel so they could all leave, and it wasn’t until 4:30 a.m. that Daryl was back in his chair and in Terminal 3. However, her nightmarish journey was not over yet.
A special assistance staff member accompanied him to the border post where no staff member was found. This led to frantic phone calls by special assistance to find border personnel to get Daryl out of the airport.
As 6 a.m. approached, and with no end in sight to this “ridiculous” ordeal, Daryl took matters into his own hands and called the police. Within minutes, a handful of border agents had arrived and Daryl could be released from the airport.
He added: “When we finally got to border control, there was just no one there, it really freaked them out. They were calling their bosses, but he couldn’t reach anyone. No one seemed to be able to make a phone call. border force, it lasted a good hour.
“I was begging them to let me through, even if it was going to be an emergency exit or something. It became very clear very quickly that the airport staff had no line of communication. with security personnel, which I found concerning.
“I felt like I was being held hostage so I had no choice but to call the police. I managed to reach GMP who have a station at the airport and within 10 minutes , five border agents were there.
“Apparently they had no idea I was here, despite special assistance trying to reach them. They said they only knew because the police contacted them. no choice but to take the case out of the hands of the airport.”
Daryl wanted to share his story to raise awareness of how wheelchair users have been treated at airports in recent months. BBC News security correspondent Frank Gardner went viral on Twitter in May after sharing his experience of being stuck on a plane at Heathrow while staff retrieved their wheelchairs, highlighting the plight many disabled people have suffered recently crossed.
“The way they treat people with disabilities is terrible,” Daryl added, “that needs to change.” “I travel a lot for work and this is the second time in a year that I have had a major problem like this.
“I know many people with the same disability as me and many have had a similar experience. These experiences make us feel like an obstacle, a complication that airports don’t like to deal with. The system seems very understaffed and people aren’t given proper training.
“The airport is handing us over to a third party and not taking responsibility for looking after us. There needs to be more awareness of this and this needs to change.
“People with disabilities have to go through a lot of c***, but it’s just ridiculous. It looks like it should be a very simple system, but they just don’t understand it at all. I honestly think it’s a management issue, they don’t care about customer experience.
“When I traveled to Russia, Spain, Poland, I had no problems, they were really good. . This system is completely broken.”
A Manchester Airport spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Tavernor had a disappointing experience and will work with our special assistance provider to understand how a repeat of this could be avoided. We , and others in our industry, including airlines, baggage handlers and assistance providers, are currently experiencing staff shortages due to the speed with which travel has recovered from the pandemic. to address this as soon as possible through a major recruitment campaign, and to mitigate these challenges as best we can in the meantime.”
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. Tavernor’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.
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