British Airways allegedly offered a Multiple sclerosis sufferer who is confined to a wheelchair just £50 in future travel vouchers as compensation after the airline damaged his £4,000 wheelchair.
Rae Surtee is a wheelchair basketball player for the Leicester Cobras and was travelling to Sweden recently with British Airways when his wheelchair was placed into the hold of the aircraft.
When Rae got his chair back, he discovered that the frame had been “cracked and ripped”. Rae’s wheelchair is a bespoke made-to-measure chair designed specifically for wheelchair basketball players.
Rae describes his chair as his legs without which he completely loses his mobility. The wheelchair manufacturer quoted £539 to fix the damage to the frame and offered to fix the damaged brakes for free.
British Airways, however, initially only offered £50 in future travel vouchers for compensation. Rae says BA started to “ghost” him when he made a complaint but the airline has since been in contact with him and offered to resolve the issue.
In a statement, a spokesperson for BA confirmed it had “been in touch with the customer directly and have resolved the issue.”
The aviation industry’s treatment of wheelchair users has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after it emerged that passengers requiring additional assistance were routinely left abandoned on aircraft long after all other passengers had disembarked because of a lack of specially trained employees.
Earlier this week, Gatwick airport was forced to issue a grovelling apology after Victoria Brignell, who is quadriplegic, was forced to wait on an empty British Airways plane for an hour and a half before she was helped.
A spokesperson for the airport said the treatment Victoria received was “unacceptable” and promised an investigation. Industry insiders, however, say the issues are symptomatic of the sector’s reliance on contracting out services to the lowest bidder.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.