Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Ryanair tell frail Ulster pensioner her oxygen mask is second piece of luggage

CAPTION: Bride O'Donnell (70) pictured alongside her family grand daughter Sarah and daughter Lisa who she was visiting during her trip to London.
Michael O'Leary has unveiled record profits for Ryanair

A Donegal pensioner suffering from a serious medical condition said she “feared for her life” after being told by a budget airline she could not bring her life-saving breathing equipment on board a flight to Londonderry.

Bridie O’Donnell (70), who suffers from a range of health problems including sleep apnea, was told by Ryanair check-in staff at Stansted Airport she was not allowed to bring the vital equipment on board the flight.

The airline said the device — used to help her breathe at night — constituted a second piece of carry-on baggage.

That was despite the passenger being able to provide a medical letter to staff.

Ryanair last night said the Donegal pensioner had failed to inform the airline of her “special requirement”.

Ms O’Donnell (70) was told she must check-in the equipment, which resembles a small laptop, despite having no difficulty on her outbound flight.

She had been told by her doctor to keep the device with her at all times as she risks dying in her sleep without it.

“I had a letter from the hospital saying that I have the condition and need it, but when we got to the gate I was told I couldn’t bring it on,” Ms O’Donnell said.

“I said it was medical equipment and tried to show her the document, but she asked for a letter from Ryanair.

“She said I had to check it in — but I was totally out of breath, feeling terrible and there was no way I could have done that with my health. There was no compassion.”

After some deliberation Ms O’Donnell was forced to squeeze the breathing apparatus into her friend’s carry-on bag.

“We managed to force it in to my friend’s case after a while,” she said.

“I handed in the boarding pass

and told her how upset I was, but there was no response.

“With my high blood pressure and asthma I felt so ill, I was exhausted and nearly in tears.

“I was so embarrassed with the other passengers in earshot.”

In response to the pensioner’s concerns, Ryanair said: “Unfortunately this passenger failed to contact Ryanair’s low-call special assistance line ahead of her flight to inform us of her special requirement.

“Therefore, our handling agent asked her to accommodate all items in her one free 10kg carry-on bag, which she did before boarding the aircraft.”

But the incident has left a sour taste in the Buncrana woman’s mouth. She said she would not be flying with the low-cost carrier in future.

“I think if they had dealt with it better I wouldn’t have been half as angry,” she added.

“But I thought the treatment was absolutely ridiculous.

“I said to my friend, never again as long as I live will I fly with them.”

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