Athena Stevens, a 31-year-old woman who suffers from cerebral palsy, was allegedly forced to disembark from a British Airways flight in October 2015. The airline forced the disabled passenger off the flight from London City airport to Glasgow, after the staff failed to find a way to fit her electric wheelchair within the hold. She is currently pursuing a passenger compensation claim against the airline.
Staff were informed 72 hours in advance
The staff of the airline were allegedly informed 72 hours in advance that she would be travelling with an electric wheelchair. Despite the notification which was provided well in advance, they could not find a way to store it in the hold of the aeroplane, and the pilot announced that the flight had been delayed by two hours due to the difficulty they were facing in loading the chair.
The electric wheelchair was damaged in the process
Ms. Stevens was not offered a refund for the flight she was forced to disembark, and neither did she receive a replacement flight or flight delay compensation for the inconvenience caused. To make matters worse, she noticed that the electric wheelchair was damaged once she disembarked from the flight. According to reports, the computer which controlled the movement of motors that are attached to the wheel was broken and the exterior of the electric wheelchair was damaged, rendering it not safe for use.
Ms. Stevens is currently forced to resort to using a rental wheelchair
After she was forced off the plane, British Airways took three months simply to refund Ms. Stevens, but they are yet to offer any compensation or a replacement electric wheelchair. Ms. Stevens is an American film-maker who is based in London and she has been using a rental wheelchair since the incident, which is not as technologically sophisticated as her previous wheelchair. She is unable to use the chair on public transport and is forced to foot bills amounting to more than €1900 per week for the extra help at home, the taxis and rental wheelchair. Ms. Stevens claims that her mobility has been heavily compromised as her life revolves around the electric wheelchair.
Paralympic athletes are encouraged to boycott British Airlines
British Airlines had flown Team GB and the Paralympic team to the Beijing Olympics back in 2008. They were also one of the official sponsors of the Paralympic Games that was held in 2012. After her ordeal, Ms. Stevens is urging paralympic athletes to boycott the airline company for the upcoming Games which is to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
Issue is being resolved by lawyers
Ms. Steven’s case has attracted the attention of organizations like Disability Rights UK and Reduced Mobility who are demanding that British Airways and London City Airport should work towards compensating her. According to reports from British Airways, they are working with London City airport and the disabled passenger to resolve the issue. Both, the London City airport and British Airways have refused to comment further on the situation as the issue is being handled by lawyers.