Airline That Destroyed Disabled Man’s Custom Wheelchair Apologizes

An airline is now apologizing to a disabled man whose wheelchair was destroyed while traveling with the carrier. Andy Latham and his wife, Kerry Latham, claim that the specialized wheelchair was severely damaged while being loaded onto their Ryanair flight from Birmingham Airport in England.

The airline told International Business Times in a brief statement Tuesday that its service representatives were working with the couple to get the issue resolved.

“We regret any inconvenience caused by our handling agents (Swissport) at Birmingham Airport, and our customer service team are liaising with this customer to resolve this matter directly,” the airline said.

Andy Latham was partially paralyzed two years ago after suffering a brain hemorrhage, BBC News reported Sunday. The Warwickshire-based couple was headed for Alicante, Spain, for vacation at the time of the incident. Andy Latham’s custom-made wheelchair, on which he is dependent, was reportedly destroyed while being loaded onto the plane as the two were en route to their destination.

“Andy depends on the wheelchair, so of course I’m feeling upset to see his wheelchair in pieces,” Kerry Latham told BBC News.

The couple said they spent hundreds of euros during their vacation to secure a wheelchair. Kerry Latham also said that they were contacted by the airline while they were in Spain at their UK phone number, meaning that they weren’t able to take the calls. Ryanair also reportedly sent an email to the couple apologizing for the handling of the chair. But Kerry Latham said she’s been having to “chase” both the carrier and Swissport to get a resolution.

“Somebody needs to replace the wheelchair,” Kerry Latham said.

It could take up to three months for Andy Latham to receive another chair that suits his medical needs, but the couple is renting one in the meantime.

Ryanair came under fire earlier this year for its customer service provided to another wheelchair-dependant customer. A 20-year-old student with Friedreich’s Ataxia was left at a Dublin airport after being detained because of her chair and was allegedly asked to walk up stairs “for easiness’ sake.”

“I thought, how dare they ask a person in a wheelchair that question?” Niamh Herbert told the Guardian in February.

She added: “I was visibly distraught and a few people in the airport came up to me, asked me if they could help or buy me tea, but Ryanair staff barely spoke to me.”

“While we regret any inconvenience,…

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