Elderly couple who need wheelchairs ‘abandoned’ on plane for HOURS after landing at Manchester Airport


An elderly couple have vowed never to fly again after claiming they were ‘abandoned’ on a plane for nearly three hours upon landing at Manchester Airport. Bill and Shirley George, from Bury, say they found themselves stuck on the empty jet after it arrived from Malaga shortly after midnight on Thursday (May 19).

The married couple, who are both in their late 80s and require the use of wheelchairs, said they remained in their seats after cabin crew promised someone would come to help them get off the plane. After all the other passengers had left, Bill and Shirley say they were left in their seats as the cabin crew and pilot disembarked.

When no one turned up for another 45 minutes, Bill, who suffers from mobility problems, says he was forced to leave the plane in search of assistance. “It was horrible,” he said.

“They just left us on the plane and we were stranded. There was us and another four passengers, but nobody came to help.”

Airline TUI has blamed ‘limited ground handlers’ because of a delay to the flight.

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Bill, 87, and Shirley, 88, were returning to the UK following a two-week holiday on the Costa del Sol. They say their journey home had already got off to a bad start when, upon arriving at Malaga Airport, they discovered their flight had been delayed.

The TUI flight eventually left for Manchester at 10pm – 11 hours behind schedule. After the plane landed, Bill and Shirley say they stayed seated while the cabin crew and pilot left the plane.

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After becoming fed up of waiting, Bill said he decided to take matters into his own hands and got off the plane to go and look for a wheelchair. “The airport was in darkness,” he said.

“Nobody was there so I went back to see if my wife was alright and the door was locked. I must have walked about two miles trying to find someone. I’m waiting for a knee operation at the moment.”



Bill and Shirley George were left ‘stranded’ on a plane for hours after landing at Manchester Airport

After about an hour, Bill said he came a man wearing a ‘TUI vest’. He said he explained the situation and the worker found a wheelchair and helped him back to the plane. Bill says he was then forced to push his wife through the terminal, before they eventually left the airport at about 3am – three hours after having landed.

“It’s diabolical,” he said. “I’m not angry, I’m livid. My wife is knackered. She has a leaking heart valve. There’s no way she could have walked all that way.”

The couple’s son, Ian, said he was ‘absolutely appalled’. “My mother was in tears when I spoke to her,” he said. The first thing she said to me was ‘I will never travel again’. They were both very distressed.

“They landed 11 hours late then they were abandoned for three hours. It was a horrendous experience for them. It’s put them off traveling again. To go through that in your 80s is ridiculous. I don’t understand how a cabin crew can leave a plane with people still on it.”

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According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, passengers with a disability or reduced mobility are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’, when traveling by air.

“This means airports and airlines must provide help and assistance, which is free of charge, and helps ensure you have a less stressful journey,” the organization says.

Ensuring passengers with restricted movement safely disembark an aircraft is the responsibility of the airline. Manchester Airport staff, the MEN understands, were not involved in the process in this case directly at any point.

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: “We are sorry to hear of these passengers’ experience and are working with the airline and other third parties involved to understand the circumstances that led to the delay in disembarking them from the aircraft.”

A TUI spokesperson added: “We’re very sorry to hear of Mr and Mrs George’s experience. Unfortunately, due to the delayed flight there were limited ground handlers available when it landed which resulted in a delay assisting passengers off the aircraft. We can confirm that our crew waited for all passengers to depart the aircraft and no customers were left onboard at any time.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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