Elderly disabled passenger left 'abandoned' onboard plane for hours at Manchester Airport

Hazel's ordeal left her exhausted and humiliated as she was finally able to get on a minibus home four hours after landing.

The family of an elderly disabled passenger has criticised airport assistance after she was left 'humiliated' waiting to get off her flight for three hours.

Hazel Thorne, 77, flew to Crete for her grandson's wedding, but despite booking passenger assistance to get off the plane, it did not arrive in Crete or back in Manchester.

As she landed at Manchester Airport the pensioner, who has emphysema was left "abandoned" and "humiliated" onboard with her daughter Colene Shevill waiting for assistance.

Stephen Preston, who also attended the wedding and flew back with Coleen and Hazel, said: "I think the experience for people like Hazel, and for her, is quite humiliating.

"To be sat there on an airplane with a crew that are themselves tired and want to get off shift and move on, and a captain who can't leave, it's just a very difficult, humiliating position to be put in."

Colene added: "Everybody got off, and then there was myself, my mum and another lady there and we were just left on the plane for three hours with the cabin crew, and the replacement cabin crew - it was just a nightmare.

"Mum was getting quite breathless on the plane, she was shattered."

Hazel had flown to Crete for the wedding of her grandson.

The group's flight from the Greek island had been delayed by around an hour and half, landing into Manchester Airport shortly after 4am.

As the plane landed, passengers on the flight from Heraklion to Manchester were immediately let off, clearing passport control and leaving the airport in just under an hour.

But as Colene and Hazel failed to emerge the rest of the party began to raise the alarm.

Stephen, who was trying to coordinate a response from outside the airport, said: "Colene and Hazel were totally in the dark on the airplane as to what was happening, the crew of the airplane didn't know what was happening.

"We waited and waited, and after half an hour nobody had turned up, nobody had explained what was going on."

The group asked the mobility assistance service, ABM, at the airport for answers, but nobody was able to help.

Hazel spent a week in Crete for her grandson's wedding and had booked passenger assistance at both airports for help on and off the plane.

Eventually, at 6.30am a lift was sent to the aircraft, and Hazel and Colene were taken off the plane and reunited with their family shortly after 7am.

Colene says she could not fault the cabin crew and pilots who were on board the plane with them as they waited for the lift to arrive.

"They were very helpful, both sets of cabin crew," she said. "They made us a coffee and waited with us until everything was sorted."

Stephen added: "Hazel was exhausted. It had been a very long night, everyone was feeling very frazzled and frustrated simply because of the lack of information.

"There was nobody you could talk to directly, nobody was giving any clear answers as to what was happening - if they had said there is going to be a significant delay, we apologise we're doing the best we can, that would have been something, that would have mitigated the irritation, but there was simply no communication, so we all felt abandoned and extremely frustrated."

An ABM spokesperson said: "We understand the importance of the special assistance service we provide passengers, and delivering that service with efficiency, respect, and care is critical.

"We regret any time when our service does not meet that standard.

"We are currently experiencing higher volumes of passengers who require special assistance than our busiest pre-pandemic peak while the entire industry continues to face resource challenges.

"We know that we are not alone in managing these issues and understand the inconvenience and emotional impact this all may have on individuals travelling, particularly those requiring additional assistance.

"We are working in collaboration with all our clients and partners to minimise the impact as we navigate this phase of the pandemic recovery."

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