Disabled passengers left stranded at Luton Airport after porters arrived late to Ryanair flight

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They were denied entry to the plane despite other passengers still boarding at the time

Nine disabled people were left stranded at Luton Airport after porters were three minutes late taking them to their Ryanair flight.

David Novak, 63, was one of the passengers who was refused entry to the plane to Spain in June.

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David, his partner and his mother travelled from Coventry to get to Luton for 2.30am ahead of their flight to Murcia just before 7am. He asked the special assistance desk multiple times when they would be taken to the gate and was told someone was on their way. Just before 6.30am, David, his party and six other disabled passengers were rushed to the gate.

David's mother, 92-year-old Gordana Novakovic, with his partner, Ruth Pejcic, at Luton Airport. (Picture: David Novak)David's mother, 92-year-old Gordana Novakovic, with his partner, Ruth Pejcic, at Luton Airport. (Picture: David Novak)
David's mother, 92-year-old Gordana Novakovic, with his partner, Ruth Pejcic, at Luton Airport. (Picture: David Novak)

He said: “We were waiting for the back doors to open for a good 10 minutes. Nothing happened. We were asking why the back doors weren’t opening. The porter said they wouldn’t let us on the plane because they were three minutes late bringing us there.”

Those waiting on the wheelchair-friendly ambilift vehicle could see passengers boarding at the front of the plane and despite the pilot asking for them to be allowed on, a Swissport dispatcher would denied this.

A spokesperson for Swissport said: “We’re sorry to hear about these passengers’ experience and recognise how frustrating it was for them. Our agents must strictly adhere to Ryanair’s policy for gate closure times - in this case 15 minutes before departure – and, unfortunately, these passengers arrived at the gate after this time.”

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A Ryanair spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable that special assistance at Luton Airport was not provided for these passengers.

“Luton Airport failed to provide these passengers with the pre-booked special assistance for their flight from London to Murcia (June 26) despite Ryanair paying for this.

"It is abysmal that Ryanair customers requiring special assistance are being let down by Luton Airport and we are working with them to ensure that this does not reoccur.”

London Luton Airport’s spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of our special assistance provision and we’re committed to providing a simple and friendly passenger experience for all. We’re very sorry that we fell short of expectations on this occasion.

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“Ultimately, the decision on whether to allow boarding falls with the airline.

“As soon as we were made aware of the situation, alternative flights departing on the same day were booked for Mr Novak’s party, with all transport and additional expenses covered.”

All nine people waited for their bags to be taken off the plane. David said: “It took another 15 minutes or so - by which time they could have got us all on the plane. They had to take us back to the airport. We had to go back in as if we were coming back into the country.”

Once back in the terminal, they were given two options: wait until the next day to fly, or fly from Gatwick. All opted for the EasyJet flight leaving at 17:25 from London Gatwick and were driven there by private taxis.

David added: “At the very least, I’d like them to say sorry, and acknowledge they have done wrong to us. We would like compensation because we lost a day and a half of our holidays.”