TUI have apologised to a disabled holidaymaker who was forced to urinate in an aircraft sink with only a curtain between him and other passengers.
David Anderson, 55, from Cardenden, Fife, suffered the indignity whilst on a £2000 cruise holiday in September with his wife.
The couple had spent hours researching their dream trip and informed TUI of David’s additional needs due to apprehension about travelling for the first time since his stroke in 2016.
His wife, Alana, says the problems started with the flights, with David placed in a middle seat rather than the aisle in both directions, forcing him to consider urinating in a bottle.
Alana, 48, says that on the Edinburgh to Palma flight, David made his way to the toilet with degrading results.
David, who relies on a walker, was unable to fit his aid into the toilet cubicle.
He was forced to urinate into the sink with the door open with only a curtain drawn for privacy from other passengers.
When the couple arrived at various ports in Italy they found TUI had not warned them about the accessibility issue with toilets.
Alana says provisions for disabled people were “non-existent” and on two occasions, in Sicily and Corsica, he resorted to urinating in a side street due to a lack of accessible toilets.
Other problems faced by the couple included steep gangway steps that meant David could only disembark twice during the week long cruise.
He also struggled with heavy doors, a lack of toilets on board the ship and was unable to access certain areas of the boat.
David was then also left injured on the way home after bungling airport staff failed to secure his wheelchair in a mobility lift.
Alana says she was separated from her husband during boarding, but later found him bleeding and “highly distressed.”
Speaking today, she said: “We were also clearly told that the [excursion] coaches would not be adapted for wheelchair accessibility so we would not be able to book them. However, on three occasions I saw that the coaches did indeed have lifts.
“There’s obviously been a miscommunication in the chain about excursions.
“This is our first holiday since David’s stroke and I explained to them David’s physical capabilities and he was there with me in the travel shop so they could see.
“But being our first cruise, you obviously don’t know all the questions to ask, toilet facilities being one of them.
“It was horrendous, just so degrading, I know he’s my husband, but some things are private, toileting being one of them.”
She added: “The adapted cabin was absolutely fantastic and I was really happy that it matched our expectations and the staff did on board did really try and help.
“But the point of a cruise is being able to get off the damn thing and it was really disappointing and disheartening not to be able to.
“I get that maybe EU countries aren’t quite as up to date with disabled issues, but I wasn’t told that and had I have been I might have chosen a different destination.
“Hindsight is a great thing, but there is definitely a gap in communication.
“When I got back to the travel agent and told them about it they were quite surprised and said it shouldn’t have happened.
“David is on benefits so for us to go on a cruise was just unbelievable and something I never thought I could afford for us and would never be within our reach.
“It’s not about the money though, it’s about raising awareness and making sure people in a similar situation have the right information to make the right choice.”
James Taylor, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at disability equality charity Scope, said: “It’s disgraceful that disabled customers are expected to put up with degrading situations like this when wanting to travel.
“Being able to go to the toilet during a plane journey should be a basic right for all customers.
“Accessibility is not just about being able to get onto a plane.
“Half (43%) of disabled people say that having more accessible facilities would improve their experience of flying.
“Airlines should be doing much more to make services accessible for their disabled customers.”
TUI have offered David and Alana £200 in holiday vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.
They responded to Alana’s complaint saying: “I am very concerned to read about the incident that took place during your flight, and that your husband used the sink to urinate, with the door open as opposed to using the toilet.
“I understand that this must have been an unpleasant experience and also incredibly unhygienic.
“Please be assured that your comments have been passed to our holiday experience team for review.
“I am also very sorry you were unhappy with the layout of your adapted cabin. I can only apologise that you deemed this unsuitable.
“I would again like to assure you that we have passed this feedback on to the relevant areas of the busines.
“I understand you were unhappy with the advice that you were unable to participate in many of the excursions due to accessibility of the coach and ports.
“I can fully appreciate how disappointing this must have been and can only further extend my apologies for this.
“I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused on this occasion.”