Kent man forced to wait on plane at Gatwick for over hour finds wheelchair is damaged

Mark Parrin from Kent says it's limited his mobility and left him facing a repair bill of hundreds of pounds. Credit: ITV News Meridian

A disabled air passenger has described how he was forced to wait for more than an hour on a plane at Gatwick only to find his wheelchair had been badly damaged.

Mark Parrin from Kent says it's limited his mobility and left him facing a repair bill of hundreds of pounds.

When he was 25 years old and working in construction, he contracted a spinal virus and was left paralysed from the neck down and has been using a wheelchair for 32 years.

A recent trip back from Tenerife has left him unable to use his bespoke wheelchair outside.

Mark Parrin said: "We just come back from Tenerife, landed at Gatwick Airport waiting for the assistance to help us off the plane and reunite me with my wheelchair but there was a delay of about 1 hour and 20 minutes before the assistance team turned up.

"In that time they had taken my wheelchair off of the plane and for some unknown reason it ended up on the luggage conveyor belt where it was totally damaged to the extent that I'm basically not able to use it outside at all anymore."

He added: "To be able to just repair a chair like that overnight just isn't going to happen. So the chair really is an integral part, it's my mobility, it is my freedom."

Mark says the wheel keeps jamming where it's buckled and he's limited to what he can do until it's fixed.

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear about this incident and have escalated it to our assisted services provider, Wilson James, to investigate as a priority."

A spokesperson for Wilson James said: “We have reviewed our operational information and can confirm that an unanticipated spike in the volume of requests during this period led to delays.

"This falls below our standards for service delivery and we apologise to all those affected.

"The PRM service requires collaboration across service providers; wheelchairs are handled by groundcrew staff and so we are unable to provide specific information in this case, but we know the impact that damage to mobility devices has on their owners.

"We invite the complainant to reach out to us directly for assistance in reviewing the damage, and we hope to be able to apologise personally.”