Saturday, April 8, 2017
Easyjet Pilot offloads Deaf-Blind independent flyer for last 35 years
This discriminatory incident being reported from Scotland where a Deaf-blind flyer Mr. Frankie Thomson, 52 who has been travelling independently for past 35 years and uses a guide dog for mobility, was escorted off a plane moments before the take-off when the pilot refused to let him fly unaccompanied for ‘safety reasons’.
The incident occurred on an Easyjet Edinburgh to Gatwick flight last month and has left Mr Thomson confused. ‘I could feel people watching me wondering what I’d done. I felt people were talking about me,’ he said through a guide communicator.
‘I wasn’t embarrassed or anything – just confused and thinking what was going on. I’ve never had any problems before.’ After being escorted off the plane Mr Thomson was put in a cab and taken back to his girlfriend Katie Swinton’s flat in Loanhead, Midlothian.
She was the one who booked the tickets for him in October for a weekend visiting friends in London and she had requested special assistance.
‘I was so stressed and upset. They asked me to contact them on a phone number but how could I? I’m deaf,’ Ms Swinton added. Mr Thomson’s case has been taken up by SNP Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard.
Easyjet has apologised and a spokeswoman said they offered him assistance and free flights the next day for him and a companion. He will also receive a refund.
The spokeswoman 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.’
Mr Thomson is deaf from birth and a degenerative eye condition has left him partially sighted.