Airport baggage handlers ruin boy’s wheelchair

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A DISABLED boy was left without a wheelchair for five weeks after it was damaged by baggage handlers at Edinburgh Airport.

The family of Harvey Ratcliff (CORR), 9, said the treatment she received after arriving in Edinburgh from a holiday in Malaga, Spain, was “disgusting”.

Harvey, who suffers from a rare genetic disease called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS) as well as autism, struggles to walk and was reduced to crawling in the period without his wheelchair.

His mother Fiona said the family, who live in Manchester, carefully placed the wheelchair in the hold before their flight on August 29, but when it arrived on the luggage carousel, the £559 chair was unusable.

The chassis and the front castors were both broken, and the front foot plate was snapped off, with the parts being placed on the seat.

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The Ratcliff family

Fiona, 37, originally from Cowdenbeath, Fife said that nobody from Jet2, who provided the flight, came to apologise for the incident after the flight touched down.

She said she received many “standardised” emails from the company after complaining, but was eventually offered £500 compensation.

Fiona said: “It just seems farcical, the whole situation. It’s a piece of medical equipment which we have put in their trust. You expect them to take care of it.

“When we saw the wheelchair come along the luggage carousel, all the broken parts were on top, nobody came to apologise, surely they must have realised, without a doubt.

“I’d love to know how the wheelchair ended up like that, it was only five weeks old.

“We were five weeks without a wheelchair, that’s his mode of transport. Harvey did not know why he couldn’t go out. The wheelchair engineer took one look at it and said that’s knackered.”

The broken wheelchair
The broken wheelchair

Fiona said Jet2 eventually agreed to provide the family with £500 compensation, and agreed to cover the costs of the new wheelchair.

Bosses at Edinburgh Airport said that baggage handlers were paid for by the airlines, but services for people with reduced mobility were offered by a company called OmniServ.

A spokesman for OmniServ said: “We are very sorry to hear about the problems Mrs Ratcliff and her son experienced on their return flight.

“We understand that her son’s wheelchair was damaged during the baggage handling process.”

Harvey on holiday
Harvey on holiday

They explained that they only found out about the issue the next day, when the family had returned to Manchester.

They added: “Had we known immediately when they landed at Edinburgh, we would have been able to provide a suitable loan wheelchair there and then.”

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