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Scope's letter to transport minister Wendy Morton after disabled passenger dies at Gatwick Airport

Wendy Morton
MP Minister of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road

24 June 2022

Dear Minister,

I am writing to urge you to make improving assistance for disabled passengers travelling by plane and by train a priority.

Scope is deeply concerned about the number of recent high-profile cases across the aviation and train industry of disabled passengers being stranded, left behind and not receiving the service they deserve.[1]

This is not a new issue. Travelling by plane and by train is often much harder than it needs to be for disabled passengers.

We've heard stories of disabled passengers being left waiting for assistance to help them get off, as well as issues like vital equipment such as wheelchairs being damaged or lost.

The tragic death of a disabled passenger at Gatwick Airport last week due to a lack of assistance shows how dangerous and serious this can be.

Scope is extremely concerned that airports, airlines, and train operators are not fulfilling their duties under the relevant Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Office of Rail and Road (ORR) regulations, and are letting disabled people down.

No disabled passenger should be left stuck on a plane, or a train, whether due to staff shortages, delays or miscommunication.

Amid the pressures the travel industry is facing this summer, we need to see transport operators prioritise assistance for disabled passengers.

We are writing to you to strongly request that the Department for Transport reminds transport providers – particularly in aviation and rail – of their responsibilities and duties and warns them of the consequences of not doing so.

And that you demand the regulators – the CAA and the ORR – use their powers of enforcement where there are clear breaches of the rules on supporting disabled passengers.

Disabled passengers have been let down too often, for far too long, and this urgently needs to change.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

James Taylor
Executive Director – Strategy, Impact and Social Change

Also copied to: Chloe Smith, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport


1. Disabled passenger forced to drag himself up train station steps after ‘staff refused to help’ | The Independent

Frank Gardner: 'It happened again' - Why are wheelchair-users left on planes? - BBC News

Death of disabled passenger at Gatwick prompts inquiry | Gatwick airport | The Guardian




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