A disabled passenger was left on a holiday jet for two hours after it had landed because the special assistance booked for him never arrived.
Quamer Khaliq, 44, and his daughter, aged 11, had been on a dream £6,000 trip to visit Disney World in Florida and had just touched down at Manchester Airport after a nine-hour flight.
Mr Khaliq, who has been dependent on a wheelchair since birth because of spinal muscular atrophy, remained in his seat after his Thomas Cook Airlines flight arrived at the airport.
Mr Khaliq, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, had booked the trip through DisabledHolidays.com and the company says it booked ‘special assistance’ for him at Manchester Airport. The special assistance booked for him never arrived
After all the other passengers had left, Mr Khaliq, his carer and his daughter remained in their seats as the cabin crew and pilot disembarked.
Cleaners came and went and the drama only came to an end after newly recruited cabin crew came aboard for training and he threatened to dial 999 to get the fire service to rescue him.
Mr Khaliq, who has been dependent on a wheelchair since birth because of spinal muscular atrophy, remained in his seat after his Thomas Cook Airlines flight arrived at the airport
The new recruits’ tutor raised the alarm but it took another 30 minutes for a wheelchair to be brought to the plane and Mr Khaliq was finally lifted out of his seat.
Mr Khaliq says he suffered ‘distress and humiliation’.
He had booked the trip through DisabledHolidays.com and the company says it booked ‘special assistance’ for him at Manchester Airport.
ABM Aviation, which was only awarded the contract in April, has apologised and promised to investigate.
Mr Khaliq, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, said: ‘There was a moment when I was actually crying. My daughter saw me crying. I wanted this to be special for her.
‘This was one of her dreams, to go to Disney World. It spoiled it a little bit. She saw me a little bit distressed. When we eventually got home she went to her room and didn’t come out for a good period.’
He went on: ‘We arrived in Manchester at about 8.30am.
‘We were told by the cabin crew that once all the passengers had disembarked then the special assistance team would come to help me. I waited for 15 or 20 minutes. Then nobody arrived.
‘I asked the cabin crew and they say they would make enquiries. Gradually it became half-an-hour and then an hour and then the pilot came and he said he would see what was going on. He went and came back and he said he could not find out what was going on.’
Cleaners came and went and the drama only came to an end after newly recruited cabin crew came aboard for training and he threatened to dial 999 to get the fire service to rescue him. A file photo of a Thomas Cook plane at Manchester Airport is pictured above
Mr Khaliq described how the cabin crew and the pilot left the plane, leaving him in his seat beside his daughter, before a team or ‘five or six trainee air stewards’ came on board to be shown the inside of the aircraft.
‘After a couple of hours I got distressed and started shouting and then the manager who was training the people came over and I asked her what was going on’.
‘She said she was going to make a call,’ he added. He described how two other officials, he believed from the airport company contracted to assist disabled passengers, came on board and asked him: ‘What are you doing in the airplane?’
‘They asked me how long I had been waiting and and I said two hours and they said ‘that’s not good enough – we’ll get you out’.
‘They went to get some equipment but didn’t return for about half-an-hour. When they did come back they said they’d had a problem with my wheelchair which had gone with the luggage rather being kept at the gate. I said ‘just get me off the plane.’
‘Then they lifted me out and got me off the plane. They used a smaller wheelchair.
‘The fiasco meant that Quamer had spent almost 13 hours in his seat – he had boarded the aircraft in Florida 90 minutes before the rest of the passengers.
Mr Khaliq said: ‘I was in a lot of distress, especially with my daughter who didn’t leave my side. She stayed there with me the whole time. I was more worried about her. She’s only 11.
‘I was concerned that the cabin crew had left me because I believe they are not supposed to leave passengers on board.’
The airport contractor which provides assistance for disabled passengers, ABM Aviation, apologised and said it was reviewing the incident.
They said in a statement: ‘ABM Aviation endeavours to work closely with airports, airlines and other service providers to ensure a seamless service to all passengers.
‘We are concerned to hear of Quamer Khaliq’s complaint, received 13th June 2019, about his special assistance experience at Manchester Airport.
‘Please be assured that we take all passengers feedback very seriously and are actively reviewing the situation to ensure a smoother process for the future.
‘In the meantime, ABM Aviation sends their sincere apologies and assurance that we are deeply committed to service excellence for all passengers we serve.’
Mr Khaliq described how the cabin crew and the pilot left the plane, leaving him in his seat beside his daughter, before a team or ‘five or six trainee air stewards’ came on board to be shown the inside of the aircraft. A stock photo of Manchester Airport is pictured above [File photo]
A Thomas Cook Airlines spokeswoman said, ‘Mr. Khaliq’s experience was clearly unacceptable.
‘On arrival into Manchester, our crew made multiple attempts to connect with Manchester Airport’s special assistance providers, and a member of the Thomas Cook Airlines team stayed with Mr. Khaliq until he was met at the aircraft.
We have asked Manchester Airport to look into what went wrong with its provider to ensure that this does not happen again.’
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: ‘We are committed to ensuring all our customers enjoy a positive experience when travelling through Manchester Airport, and are therefore disappointed to hear the standards we expect of our partners do not appear to have been met on this occasion.
‘We have raised this matter as a priority with ABM Aviation, our special assistance provider, and will work with all parties concerned to understand what happened here, and will ensure any lessons are learned.
‘As an airport, we have invested heavily in the services we provide to passengers requiring special assistance over the past 12 months.
‘This includes the introduction of the Sunflower Lanyard for customers with hidden disabilities and setting up a dedicated airport Disability Engagement Forum, which has played an important role in developing our plan to improve performance.
‘Furthermore, we changed special assistance provider at Manchester at the start of this financial year and heavily invested in resource and new equipment.’