Budget airline Ryanair’s practice of charging disabled
passengers for the use of wheelchairs was ruled as unlawful in a
landmark case, writes Amy Taylor.
The Disability Rights Commission supported disabled Londoner Bob
Ross’s test case. It wants Ryanair to pay compensation to 35 other
disabled people who have complained about paying the charge or face
group legal action.
Ross’s case was against the airline and Stansted Airport
Limited. Both accepted that Ross should not have had to pay the
fee, but disagreed about who was responsible. Ryanair is planning
to appeal against the ruling that it should cover the cost.
Ross, who has cerebral palsy and arthritis, was charged £18
for the use of a wheelchair when he flew out of Stansted in March
2002 and again on his return the following month. He is not a
full-time wheelchair user, but needs to use one when standing for
long periods of time or when travelling over long distances, such
as at Stansted.
A judge ruled that Ryanair were required to make a ‘reasonable
adjustment’ for Ross under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
1995 by providing him with a wheelchair free of charge.