A disabled British woman says she was denied assistance at a UK airport because didn’t “look ill” enough, reports said.
Nathalie Allport-Grantham, 23, suffers from several chronic illnesses. She booked special assistance on her flight to France out of London’s Stansted Airport on New Year’s Eve, the BBC reported.
But when she showed up at the gate asking for help, she was denied boarding assistance and told that she was “wasting [the airport’s] time.”
“She basically looked at me and said, ‘I’m here to help disabled people, I’m not here to help you,’” the woman said, according to the BBC.
A disabled woman says she was refused help boarding a flight because she “doesn’t look ill”. Nathalie Allport-Grantham, claims a member of staff at Stansted Airport told her she was “wasting their time” https://t.co/uaZcW7Je41 pic.twitter.com/xs0NAeKAR0
— BBC News England (@BBCEngland) January 4, 2018
Allport-Grantham suffers from two conditions: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.
The first limits her movement and causes chronic pain.
The second quickens her heart rate.
She can’t walk long distances and is prone to losing consciousness, and often needs a wheelchair to get around.
“The way she spoke to me and what she said was just awful,” the young woman said.
Allport-Grantham tried to explain, The Mighty reported, but the worker said, “I’m actually waiting for someone who cannot walk. If you want to get on the plane I suggest you queue up like everyone else. If you don’t want to carry your bag, it’s £50 to have it put in the hold. I’ve got disabled people to help and you are wasting their time.”
Allport-Grantham reportedly informed the employee that there’s a medical reason why she can’t lift bags–she could dislocate her joints or even rupture organs.
But the employee is reported to have said, “Maybe next time don’t bring a heavy bag then.”
Allport-Grantham suggested that the outcome might have been different if the airline employee had followed procedure and asked her to identify herself.
“But she didn’t ask my name. If she’d just looked at her list she would’ve seen I was the person she was waiting for.”
Nathalie Allport-Grantham, 23, was flying with #Ryanair on 31 Dec when staff refused her the assistance she had booked with her flight, and denounced her in public as a fake. She’d bkd a wheelchair to help her to the gate, + help carrying her hand luggage. https://t.co/7xkPdCkllM
— Flamenco Nut ❄️ (@flamencobug) January 3, 2018
Allport-Grantham explained that when she doesn’t use a wheelchair, her disabilities are “invisible.” She has been challenged before by those who doubt whether she is legitimately sick.
“It’s something I and everyone with chronic illnesses is used to — being judged and being called a liar,” she said. “I’ve been told before, ‘You look too pretty to be disabled.’ People have an idea that a disabled person has to look a certain way.”
Stansted Airport has issued an apology to Alloport-Gratham.
“We are very disappointed to hear about Ms Allport’s experience and apologise for any distress caused.”
A spokesperson has stated that an investigation has been launched to get to the bottom of the incident.
“We are speaking to the provider to find out more about the circumstances of the incident.”