British Airways is facing a global media backlash after it refused to change the name on a ticket so that a severely disabled woman could travel to Canada to see her best friend.
Rachael Monk, who suffers from complex cerebral palsy and must be attended by two personal assistants 24 hours a day, bought three tickets last July for the flights to Canada next month.
When one of her PAs left her employment in February, due to her own ill-health, Monk asked BA to change the name on the ticket to her new PA who had agreed to travel with her.
However, BA refused, meaning that Monk, aged 35, would have to buy another ticket, the cost of which had gone up from £454 each to £630.
So far, Monk's story has been shared almost 15,000 times on Facebook and her friend, Alex Thorburn, who posted an angry message about her plight on the FB site British Airways Complaints, said he has received messages from all around the world.
Users have described BA as 'disgusting' and its behaviour as 'disgraceful'.
And the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has suggested Monk could take a test case to court on the grounds that BA has not made 'a reasonable adjustment' for her as a disabled person under the terms of the Equality Act 2010.
EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: "This situation is no doubt familiar to countless people living with a disability.
"Access to transport is a key plank of independent living for 13 million disabled people living in the UK.
"Whether or not non-transferable tickets, and the need to pay for PA tickets, in a circumstance such as this constitute unlawful discrimination or grounds for a reasonable adjustment should be tested in court.
"For disabled people to travel the distance of others, we need big business to ask themselves if they could be doing more to play their part."
BA has not responded to TravelMole's request for a comment, but a spokeswoman allegedly told The Scottish Sun: "We are sorry to hear that our customer has been let down by her personal assistant.
"We offer a range of tickets including fully flexible and refundable options and always advise customers to choose the product that meets their individual needs.
"We do everything we can to help customers when their travel plans change and offer a 24-hour cooling off period so they can check that the name on the ticket matches the name on their passport.
"After this time, we will correct spelling mistakes on all of our tickets, and on many we allow changes to the date or time of a flight.
"However, we don't allow customers to transfer their tickets as this could lead to a secondary market of trading in airline tickets."
Monk has since bought another ticket, at an increased cost of £311.
After her friend Alex Thorburn emailed BA chief executive Alex Cruz, Monk, who lives in Dumfries and Galloway, was contacted by the airline's customer services team and offered a refund for the original ticket and £311 in vouchers for a future flight with BA to cover the additional cost of the ticket that she had to buy in order to be able to go ahead with her planned trip on April 30, but it is still refusing to change the name on her original ticket.
Thorburn said the vouchers were useless, adding: "Rachael is not intending to use BA again!
"Legal action under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 is still an option that Rachael is considering, even if BA manage to offer something acceptable to her, because she is just as concerned for other disabled people who require support to travel falling into the same situation."
Courtesy of Travelmole
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