“It’s not my problem, thank you for flying Thomas Cook.”
A war hero who lost both legs and sustained a devastating brain injury in Afghanistan was humiliated on an aeroplane while travelling with five other injured servicemen.
Ben was awarded an MBE by the Prince of Wales for his tireless charity work for Pilgrim Bandits, a charitable organisation set up by veterans to try to help injured personnel live a normal life as unhampered by their disabilities as possible.
However, last Sunday, Ben and the other servicemen were travelling home from a break in Cyprus. As they boarded their Thomas Cook flight back to the UK, the party asked for the use of an aisle chair for Ben, a specially-designed wheelchair for planes designed to fit down the aisle and allow disabled passengers to access the toilets.
According to Pilgrim Bandits, the flight’s first officer informed the group that there was no aisle chair on the aircraft and said: “It’s not my problem, thank you for flying Thomas Cook.” This resulted in the servicemen being able to go to the lavatory for the duration of the whole flight.
This occurred despite Thomas Cook’s website claiming that they provide on-board wheelchairs on all their aircraft and will “help a passenger to and from the on-board lavatory providing this does not involve lifting or carrying the passenger.”
A spokesman for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’d like to sincerely apologise to Mr Parkinson and his family and assure them that Thomas Cook Airlines takes its responsibilities to disabled customers very seriously. We immediately launched a full investigation into the issues raised by Mr Parkinson about his flight this weekend.”