A THRILL-SEEKING wheelchair user has branded Jet2 “outrageous” after they cancelled his flight because he doesn’t have a carer to fly with.
Ben White has travelled all over the world without a carer to ski, kite surf, snorkel and sky dive – despite being paralysed from the waist down.
But the 44-year-old is enraged that Jet2 accepted a flight booking online only to tell him later he could not fly without a carer.
Ben, from West Bridgford, Notts, who lost the use of his legs in a skydiving accident five years ago, then learned his seat had been canceled.
The internet provider worker, who was due to fly from East Midlands Airport to Geneva this May, said it was the first time an airline had made such a stipulation.
Ben who lives and works independently and does not need a carer in any other area of his life, claims Jet2 are guilty of discrimination.
Despite apologising to Ben for his experience, Jet2 have stood by their policy stating: “customers [are] to be accompanied by someone if they are unable to exit the aircraft.”
Speaking today (thur), Ben said: “This is my first experience of anything like this. It’s outrageous.
“I booked the flights on the second of January on Expedia and normally I have to notify the airline to let them know I’ll be using a wheelchair.
“I thought it would just be a formality, letting them know I’m in a wheelchair. “I’m paraplegic so use my wheelchair all the time.”
Ben’s experience is that he uses his own wheelchair to get to the aircraft door and then transfers to a thinner wheelchair to get to his seat. His own wheelchair goes in to the hold and is collected on arrival at his destination.
Ben said: “When I let them known they came back and said I had to have a carer with me.
“They even said they had a duty of care to me but also to the rest of the passengers so if there was an emergency, I would need a carer to help me.
“I live independently so I don’t have a carer day-to-day.
“I’m quite an active person, I’ve been skydiving, kite surfing, skiing so I don’t let the fact that I’m in a wheelchair hold me back.
“I’ve travelled a lot and flown on my own before. This is the first time I’ve ever had an issue.”
Ben has launched an official complaint with Jet 2 and accused them of being discriminatory.
After discovering on Tuesday that his flight had been cancelled, Ben took to social media to complain publicly to the firm.
He wrote: “Pretty discriminatory. I travel plenty and no other airlines have said similar.
“They’ve doubled down on it, told me outright I can’t travel alone and require a carer to fly with on their flights. They’ve cancelled my ticket.”
Ben said the only “concession” the airline made was that he and his carer could sit next to each other without additional charge.
He added: “Full refund on the way and I need to find another flight for my ski trip now. W******.
Kel Spittle responded online: “What the hell? That doesn’t make any sense and is definitely discriminatory.
“What reason for why you’d need a ‘carer’? What are they going to fireman carry you off the plane in an emergency? Ridiculous.”
Alex HS wrote: “This is totally disgusting and the first question I would be asking is what f****** medical school did pass out of to make this decision?!
“They’re refusing to serve you because of a disability and for no valid reason at all as millions of wheelchair make commercial flights every year.
“Jet2 Holidays what on earth are you playing at? Get that compensation ready.”
And Rachael Lee Kowald said: “That’s ridiculous.”
Today (thur) Jet2 apologised to Mr White for any upset caused but said they were following civil aviation policy.
A spokeswoman for Jet2 today (thur) said: “We have a policy which requires customers to be accompanied by someone if they are unable to exit the aircraft without assistance in the event of an emergency.
“We have been in contact with Mr White to explain this policy and discuss this matter.
“Whilst we do of course apologise to Mr White for any upset caused, the safety of our customers will always be our number one priority, which is why this policy is in place.”
In 2018, ten-year-old disabled boy Jack Johnson, was asked to prove that he was disabled by Jet2 before he was allowed to use a mobility scooter.
It took two hours before Jet2 staff allowed him to board a flight.
Last year, a group of disabled passengers were left stranded on a landed Jet2 plane at Manchester airport for 90 minutes without assistance following a mix up.