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April 5, 2004


From: The Mirror - UK - Apr 5, 2004

easyJet gives grovelling apology for trying to ban deaf passenger..then FIVE DAYS later tries to ban him again

By Gary Jones

EASYJET tried to stop a deaf man getting on their plane - just five days after apologising for ordering him off another flight.

Airline staff told Steve McKenna, 43, he was a "liability" because they claimed he couldn't understand safety procedures.

And the sign language tutor said he was "humiliated" as he pleaded to board his return flight from Belfast to Liverpool.

He said the flight was delayed for 45 minutes before he was finally allowed on the plane.

Steve, from Liverpool, said: "I argued with the crew for 30 minutes saying I fully understood safety procedures and could comply with them. But I was ridiculed and totally humiliated and made to feel like some sort of leper."

Ironically, Steve had just received an apology after he was thrown off an easyJet flight to Amsterdam with 10 deaf friends last October.

The pilot had claimed the group was a liability to the safety of the plane. But despite easyJet assurances Steve again found himself embarrassed last month in front of other passengers, who were angry that their plane was delayed.

He said: "I find it incredulous that easyJet have not learnt any lessons from our last humiliating experience.

"Disability issues are obviously not being taken seriously enough."

His solicitor Peter Edwards, who handled his previous complaint, said: "Yet again easyJet has shown a total disregard to the feelings of Mr McKenna. The plane was late taking off and there was great hostility from other passengers.

"Staff were insulting and rude to him saying 'we can't take off because you're deaf'. He had flown to Belfast for work with no problem."

In March easyJet sent a letter to Mr McKenna to "apologise unreservedly" for the first incident and offer free flights as compensation.

Customer services manager Vince Scibett wrote then: "The captain applied an unrelated policy regarding customers travelling with disabilities, which require a carer.

"The captain concerned has been advised of the correct policy."

Yesterday an easyJet spokeswoman promised to look into the latest incident. She said: "We'll try to get to the bottom of this. If we've made a mistake we'll say sorry."

© 2004 The Mirror