Airline Ejects Blind Passengers
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 14, 2005
NORWICH, ENGLAND--Several disability groups in the United Kingdom are angered over Ryanair's decision to eject a group of blind passengers from a flight saying there were too many people with disabilities on board.
According to BBC News and UTV, six blind and three partially-sighted people from the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind recently boarded a Ryanair flight at Stansted airport to fly to Italy with three caregivers.
Once they were on board, a flight attendant told them they would need to leave because there were already three people with disabilities on the plane and the company's policy only allows four.
The group was forced to split up and take later flights. Several members had to sleep in the airport.
A Ryanair spokesperson later said the company's policy limits the number of people with disabilities so that flight attendants help them safely evacuate in the event of an emergency.
The spokesperson added that, while the company sympathizes with the group, the passengers should have let them know they were blind long before boarding.
A spokesman for the disability charity Scope told UTV: "Scope is disgusted that in 2005 modern companies like Ryanair have a quota of disabled people that can board a flight."
"Disabled people don't need Ryanair's sympathy -- rather a commitment to fly them where they want to go. This attitude is outdated."
The Royal National Institute for the Blind said it had received a number of complaints against the discount airline from people with disabilities in the past two years, but no complaints about other airlines.
Last year, a British court found Ryanair guilty of discriminating against passenger Bob Ross because it charged him a £18 fee (about $28 US) each way to provide him a wheelchair at the same airport. In January, the court ordered Ryanair to pay Ross £1,336 ($2,435 US).
"Ryanair under fire over blind passengers" (UTV)
"Blind group told to leave plane" (BBC News)