In a series of events, one unlucky London-bound traveller on Ryanair was unable to make her flight. A string of tweets and Facebook statuses both before, during, and after the incident reveal the situation of Trinity College fashion student Ms. Niamh Herbert (pictured here). Herbert was importantly wheelchair-bound when she made her trip to London. The time she arrived at Dublin Airport was unclear, as reported by IrishCentral, though the Ryanair camp later reveal she had “arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart.”
Earlier on February 17, 2017, Niamh tweeted, “Running on 1.5 hours sleep and jetting off to London for Fashion Week! #lwf.” Herbert was bound that day to London to attend London Fashion Week with some friends from Trinity College’s Fashion Society. That time too, significantly, she was serving as @Ireland’s Twitter curator. The latter are responsible for handling the official @Ireland Twitter account for a week, from anywhere they are in the world.
When Niamh arrived at Dublin Airport with her school friends, she was told to wait for fifteen minutes for cabin crew assistance by staff who noticed her condition. She felt “annoyed,” but shared that she understood delays. Later, she was asked whether she could just climb the flight steps on her own. Put off by this, Niamh tweets, “@Ryanair you’re a disgrace.” Around this time, she was contacted by the Ryanair flight captain himself – from the airline she was supposed to board en route to London – and informed that he would be leaving without her, “no exceptions.”
All tears and threats, Niamh shares her predicament in the meanwhile. She bids her companions leave her. She sits at Gate 104, crying her eyes out and threatens legal action, after which Ryanair agrees to put her on the next flight. She notes Ryanair’s “terrible staff” and “v uncaring” air hostesses. Her friends arrive at London Stansted and wait for Herbert, though are returned with stony silence when they ask for the captain’s name.
As of IrishCentral’s reportage of the bizarre incident on February 18, 2017, Herbert has yet to receive a formal apology from the Ryanair staff though was tweeted, “Hi Niamh, Our Crew at Dublin Airport are providing assistance. Please advise if you need any further information. LR.” Niamh Herbert had felt her trip to London was ruined at the get-go, though bounced back up by enjoying the remainder of her stay in London, sharing Facebook posts about her experience at Dublin Airport, before jetting back to Ireland to meet with an attorney about the Dublin Airport incident.
Ryanair’s camp released a statement to IrishCentral on February 19, which read, While we regret any inconvenience, this customer arrived at the boarding gate 13 minutes before the flight was due to depart and had not booked any wheelchair services. Our crew provided full assistance and as a gesture of goodwill, transferred this customer on to the next available flight, free of charge, and the customer flew to London Stansted. Thousands of passengers of reduced mobility travel with Ryanair on a weekly basis without issue and any customers who require wheelchair assistance are asked to book it in advance.
Niamh Herbert is looking into whether Ryanair had breached any disability legislation with the help of Trinity College. Commenters on the issue share their own experiences with other low-cost airlines, which you can read here.