A BBC security correspondent has publicly criticized budget carrier easyJet after the airline allegedly failed to provide timely wheelchair access at Gatwick Airport over the weekend.
Frank Gardner, who has used a wheelchair since 2004 after becoming partially paralyzed when terrorists attacked him while reporting in Saudi Arabia, was returning home from the French Alps on Sunday night. After landing at London's Gatwick Airport, Gardner says he was left waiting for assistance for 30 minutes while every other passenger disembarked the aircraft, BBC reports.
"Once more stuck on empty plane at Gatwick Airport after all passengers off and heading home as special assistance have failed to turn up," the journalist tweeted to his 62,000-plus followers. His original post has since between retweeted over 1,000 times.
Once more stuck on empty plane at Gatwick Airport after all passengers off and heading home as special assistance have failed to turn up. pic.twitter.com/2fFgJFwGOQ— Frank Gardner (@FrankRGardner) January 8, 2017
Gardner took the opportunity to explain that his experience Sunday wasn't an isolated incident and told his followers that the responsibility of assisting disabled travelers rests with the U.K.'s independently contracted Outsourced Client Solutions (OCS) rather than with the airports themselves. OCS is responsible for the ambulift, a portable platform necessary to provide mobility assistance to those who cannot walk.
According to BBC, Gardner filed a complaint about the issue of disability access in 2009 and only received an apology. But in nearly eight years, the journalist says he has seen little improvement and says he has been told airlines sometimes choose "not to land at boarding gates with the retractable walkways to save money."
On Monday, Gardner posted another photo-- a selfie with singer Gloria Gaynor-- waiting for the hi-lift to help the two disembark a plane after landing in Paris. All other passengers appear to have exited first.
This problem is not confined to U.K. Here's me and singer Gloria Gaynor in Paris waiting for hi-lift after all other passengers were off. pic.twitter.com/ryJeLSDSKT— Frank Gardner (@FrankRGardner) January 9, 2017
The journalist's latest plea for better assistance didn't fall on deaf ears.
Late Monday, Gardner said on Twitter that Gatwick Airport, easyJet and OCS had all responded to his public complaint and are currently investigating the situation.
An easyJet spokeswoman released the following statement to the Evening Standard: “EasyJet is sorry that Mr Gardner was delayed around 30 minutes upon arrival at London Gatwick last night, cabin crew remained with him during the delay.
"We have taken this up with OCS who are the special assistance provider to all airlines at London Gatwick airport and are in contact with Mr Gardner about his experience.”
Gardner tweeted his appreciation, acknowledging, "Seems my experience @Gatwick_Airport has been shared by many others at UK airports. Needed now is better coordination, not more reports!"
Seems my experience @Gatwick_Airport has been shared by many others at UK airports. Needed now is better coordination, not more reports! 2/2— Frank Gardner (@FrankRGardner) January 9, 2017
The journalist also shared his experience in an interview on BBC.