A 33-year-old freelance Google ads & SEO consultant with spinal muscular atrophy was left on a plane for 2 hours at a United Kingdom airport before facing more delays getting through border control – ultimately needing the police to get through. According to the man, the fault lies with the Manchester Airport which is suffering from severe staffing shortages.
Daryl Tavernor, aged 33, has spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative muscle disease that requires him to be in a wheelchair. The UK-based man runs a freelance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Ads consulting business and was recently traveling home from Rome.
“SMA is a genetic disorder that starts in the central nervous system (CNS) and affects all the muscles in the body. Due to the degenerative nature of the disease, people with SMA will experience a decline in muscle strength over time, although the rate and severity can vary among individuals.”Spinraza
After landing in the Manchester Airport (MCR) Tavernor found himself abandoned on his Ryanair flight for 2-hours while waiting for assistance from the airport’s subcontractor ABM. After suffering the indignity of waiting to be assisted in leaving the plane he found himself waiting again when attempting to traverse through the now-empty border area of the airport.
Ultimately, Tavernor called the police to assist in his getting through security and tweeted his story which was quickly picked up by the UK-based Guardian.
According to the Guardian, Tavernor noted, “Manchester airport needs to review that contract. Either they’re trying to run it on a shoestring and can’t improve the service because of the budget or they just have not scaled up staff numbers after the pandemic.”
He went on to comment in the Guardian report that he’s submitted a formal written complaint to the airport. In the complaint he noted, “I have never experienced such a poor and inhumane treatment … I am now bruised and have a strained neck after being held up for so long …. How can you leave a passenger on a plane and then leave us with no way to get into our own country?”
For its part, the Manchester Airport is investigating the incident, and while it has offered no apology to Tavernor, the Guardian noted that the airport was “sorry to hear that Mr Tavernor had a disappointing experience.
“The current situation for all airline passengers is appalling and for disabled people who need assistance, it’s a whole lot worse. Many of us need help to navigate through the airport and on and off planes, we are completely reliant on the assistance and when it doesn’t work the stress and anxiety is absolutely enormous. Airports should never let these situations occur, they have clear legal duties under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments for disabled passengers and it is clear from incidents like the one described that this is just not happening.”Fazilet Hadi, Head of UK Disability Rights, as quoted in the Guardian
The Manchester Airport, like many UK airports, is experiencing severe staffing shortages in almost all aspects of its services. As travel waned during the pandemic, airports significantly cut staff and have been caught unprepared for the dramatic increase in travel as restrictions have waned.