April 10 at 00:19
A deaf-blind man was hauled off a flight as it was about to take off after crew raised safety fears about him flying. Confused Frankie Thomson, 52, felt a tap on the shoulder and was escorted off the plane in front of fellow passengers. He was later told the pilot refused to fly him unaccompanied – despite jetting around Europe on his own for 35 years. The airline admitted the captain had decided to “offload” him over safety concerns.
The incident happened on the Easyjet Edinburgh to Gatwick flight last month and has left Frankie completely baffled. He said: “I could feel people watching me wondering what I’d done. I felt people were talking about me. “I wasn’t embarrassed or anything – just confused and thinking what was going on. I’ve never had any problems before.” Frankie’s girlfriend Katie Swinton booked his flights last October for a weekend visiting friends in London, requesting special assistance. He is deaf from birth and a degenerative eye condition has left him partially sighted which is why he was helped through check-in and security. “I wasn’t embarrassed or anything – just confused and thinking what was going on. I’ve never had any problems before.”
Frankie’s girlfriend Katie Swinton booked his flights last October for a weekend visiting friends in London, requesting special assistance. He is deaf from birth and a degenerative eye condition has left him partially sighted which is why he was helped through check-in and security. So he was left puzzled when he was led from the plane by the arm and left in the terminal trying to get an explanation. Frankie, who spoke through a guide communicator, said: “They said the pilot refused to fly me because I was alone. “I told myself not to get too upset. Not to get too angry because I knew if I did, they’d just phone the police.” Frankie was put in a cab and taken back to his girlfriend’s flat in Loanhead, Midlothian, and stayed with a neighbour until Katie, 48, who is also deaf, got home. She said: “I was so stressed and upset. They asked me to contact them on a phone number but how could I? I’m deaf.”
Mr Thomson, who lives with guide dog Flynn in Edinburgh, is worried what precedent his experience sets. And his case has been taken up by SNP Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard. He said: “I was extremely shocked when Frankie came to me and I heard the details of this case. “It goes against all current thinking in terms of trying to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.” An Easyjet spokeswoman said they offered Frankie assistance and free flights the next day for him and a companion. And he is set to be refunded. She said: “Easyjet is sorry that Mr Thomson was unable to travel on his flight and understand how upsetting this would have been for him. “The captain took the decision to offload him prior to departure due to concerns over his welfare after he was unable to communicate with the crew about the safety procedures. “The safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is always Easyjet’s highest priority.” Source:Scottish Sun