Disabled passenger stranded on plane at airport calls police to be rescued

A disabled man who was left stranded on a plane amid the ongoing airport chaos ended up calling the police because he felt like a “hostage” on the aircraft.

Daryl Tavernor’s delayed flight from Rome landed at Manchester at 2.30am. The digital marketer, who has spinal muscular atrophy and requires special assistance, had flagged up his need for help well ahead of time, but there were no staff available to meet him from the plane.

After landing, passengers were quickly let off the flight while Daryl started his wait for special assistance staff, run by a company called ABM, to get him off the plane and into his wheelchair – which had been stored in the hold for the flight.

“It usually only takes around 10 to 15 minutes for special assistance to get me off the plane,” Daryl told the Manchester Evening News. “But it was just me and the crew and captain stuck for another two hours.

"The captain got so annoyed he went to find special assistance himself. I was told they didn't come straight away as they don't usually have planes landing at this time, but they can't plead ignorance, the captain would have told them everything on our way.

"At this point I've been on the plane for five-and-a-half hours,” he explained. “I was extremely uncomfortable and just wanted to be in my chair. The person they sent for me really struggled to get me off the plane, I'm not a heavy guy but this person really struggled."

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A member of special assistance staff accompanied him to border control where no staff were to be found. This led to frantic phone calls by special assistance to find border staff to get Daryl out of the airport.

Approaching 6am, and with no end in sight to this 'ridiculous' ordeal, Daryl took matters into his own hands, and rang the police. Within minutes, a handful of border agents had arrived, and Daryl could be let out of the airport.

He added: "When we finally got to border control there just wasn't anybody there, this really put them into a panic. They were ringing their bosses, but he couldn't get hold of anyone. Nobody seemed to be able to phone border force, this went on for a good hour.

"I was pleading for them to just let me through, even if it had to be a fire exit or something. It became very clear very quickly that airport staff have no line of communication at all with security staff, which I found concerning.

"I felt like I was being held hostage so I had no other option but to call the police," he said. "I got through to 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 get through to them. They said they only knew because police had contacted them. I basically had no other option but to take it out of the airport's hands."

"Disabled people have to go through a lot of c***, but this is just ridiculous. It feels like it should be a very simple system but they just don't get it right at all. I honestly think it's a management issue, they don't care about the customer experience.

A Manchester Airport spokesman 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 might be avoided.

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"We, and others in our industry including airlines, baggage handlers and assistance providers, are experiencing staff shortages at present due to the rapid pace at which travel has recovered from the pandemic.

"We are working tirelessly to address this as quickly as possible through a major recruitment drive, 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 passengers, and delivering that service with efficiency, respect, and care is critical.

"We regret any time when our service does not meet that standard, and are working with our teams and partners in examining Mr Tavernor’s experience."

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