Diane Bland, a 66-year-old pensioner and former nurse, needs a mobility scooter because of the trapped nerves in her back. She spent two weeks in Rhodes with her husband before flying home and finding herself having to wait for two hours before being told her scooter had been lost
A disabled pensioner has told how bungling airport staff lost her mobility scooter on a flight back from Greece.
Diane Bland, 66, who has trapped nerves in her back and cannot walk properly, waited for two hours at Birmingham Airport only to be eventually told that her £1,300 scooter had gone missing.
She had earlier ridden it through security at Rhodes Airport before being put on a specially adapted vehicle and driven straight to the TUI plane, which had been delayed by three hours, for the flight home.
Mrs Bland, a former nurse, assumed the much-needed scooter would be waiting for her when she touched down in the West Midlands at 2.40am on Sunday morning.
But after being put in a wheelchair and whisked through passport control to the luggage roundel she was later told there was no sign of it by embarrassed staff at Birmingham International.
She has called the airport nearly 60-times but nobody has picked up and TUI are yet to come back to her.
Mrs Bland, who had spent two weeks in Rhodes with her husband and some friends, told MailOnline: ‘How can they lose a bright red mobility scooter?’
Pictured is a retail store photo of Bland’s £1300 mobility scooter, which could not be photographed because it was lost by airport staff on her TUI flight back from Greece
Mrs Bland has called the airport nearly 60-times but nobody has picked up and TUI are yet to come back to her
It came as chaos gripped UK airports over the weekend with flights cancelled and thousands of passengers stranded due to staff shortages as the aviation industry struggles to recover from the Pandemic.
Mrs Bland, who had spent two weeks in Rhodes with her husband and some friends, told MailOnline: ‘How can they lose a bright red mobility scooter?
‘There have been lot of problems at airports recently with huge queues to get through security and a lack of baggage handlers so I don’t know if that’s a reason why it’s vanished.
‘But it’s not exactly hard to spot or easy to lose.
‘The benefit of having assisted travel is that when I land I get put in a wheelchair and taken through the crowds of people to passport control and then on to collect the luggage.
‘At Birmingham we waited at the luggage roundel watching pushchair after pushchair come off but no scooter.
‘The member of staff who was pushing me in the wheelchair looked exasperated, he looked in the baggage sorting area for it and when he couldn’t find it went to the TUI desk but they referred him back to the baggage handlers, who were unavailable. Nobody had a clue where it was.
‘I had to go home without it and without that scooter I’m housebound as I can only walk very short distances.
‘Since then no-one is answering the telephones, one landline, two mobiles from the airport and no answer from TUI. I’ve been directed to file a complaint, directed to claim on my travel insurance, ring an assistance department which directs me to file a complaint and then cuts me off!
‘I’ve tried calling 58 times so far and got no response at all.’
Mrs Bland got the scooter in January 2020, having suffered problems with her back since 2018.
She can only walk very short distances and despite having surgery on her back last November will not get full mobility back for a few years.
She said: ‘It’s a lifeline for me as I can’t walk for longer than a few minutes and I can’t walk up any sort of incline without being in a lot of pain.
‘I think it comes from being a nurse for 46-years when I had to lift a lot of equipment, it wore my body down and I suffered trapped nerves in my back.
‘It cost me more than £800 when I bought the scooter two years ago but it’s now worth £1300 to insure. I luckily took out travel insurance, which covers luggage, but how long it takes to get a new scooter, I simply don’t know.
‘I saw it being put on the plane when we flew to Rhodes but on the journey back it was late and too dark to see. So I don’t honestly know if the scooter is still in Greece or somewhere in Birmingham.
‘But it would be nice to speak to actually someone to find out.’
Thousands of British travellers faced a Jubilee weekend of misery with staff shortages and cancelled flights.
At the end of the half term holiday and four day weekend, nearly 200 flights into British airports were cancelled by easyJet, British Airways and Wizz Air among others.
Some have blamed the problems on Brexit and immigration rules that have prevented EU workers from returning to the UK although the Government has blamed industry bosses for cutting too many staff during the Covid pandemic.
LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: A passenger who tweeted this photograph from Gatwick today faced a long wait for security
LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Huge queues for check-in on Ryanair flights at London Gatwick Airport this morning
LONDON GATWICK AIRPORT: Passengers endure large queues for check-in at Wizz Air desks at London Gatwick this morning
It comes as easyJet today cancelled nearly 50 more flights, while other families stranded in Europe were scrambling to get home after being told there were no seats available on flights for several days.
Travellers crossed borders instead of waiting as they raced to return to work and school after half-term, with some saying they were unable to get through to customer service teams of airlines on the phone to try to rebook.
Some whose flights were cancelled on Saturday were told it would take until Friday for the next available seats, so were forced to spend hundreds of pounds for new flights or other modes of transport such as Eurostar trains.
Among them were teachers needing to get back to the classroom and A-level pupils who risk missing exams after easyJet cancelled more than 300 flights across Europe in the past three days, with more than 2,000 delayed.
Families impacted including the O’Hara family from Sussex whose easyJet flight home from Fuerteventura on Saturday was cancelled – with the next available tickets on Friday.
A couple from Lincolnshire also had an easyJet flight home from Montenegro cancelled on Saturday, and were told Thursday was the earliest they could get back.
It comes as travel agents are being inundated with phone calls from customers fearing their summer holidays will be disrupted, with about a third of calls at present being from those worried about bookings for July and August.
EasyJet axed 46 flights today, including 20 at Gatwick and seven at Luton. The Gatwick departures were flights to Amsterdam, Luqa, Rijeka, Copenhagen, Bastia, Nantes, Milan and Bordeaux – and the arrivals were from Gran Canaria, Pafos, Lanzarote, Kos, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rijeka, Luqa, Bastia, Nantes, Bordeaux and Milan.
EDINBURGH AIRPORT: A picture of huge numbers of suitcases in a cordoned-off area at Edinburgh Airport was tweeted today
MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Large queues at Manchester Airport this morning as the airport chaos continues to affect tourists
BRISTOL AIRPORT: Huge queues once again this morning at Bristol Airport which has been badly hit by the airport chaos
Wizz Air also cancelled two arrivals at Gatwick from Tel Aviv and Faro. At Luton, there were three easyJet arrivals cancelled from Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo; and four departures to Bristol, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Palermo.
Bristol Airport, which has been one of the worst-hit airports, was badly affected again today with a total of 16 easyJet cancellations – including seven departures to Split, Pula, Edinburgh, Inverness, Olbia, Bilbao and Geneva; and nine arrivals from Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Luton, Edinburgh, Pula, Split, Bucharest, Inverness and Bilbao.
In Scotland, easyJet also cancelled four flights at Edinburgh and four flights at Glasgow today – all of which were arrivals or departures to Bristol or Amsterdam. At Inverness, one departure and arrival from Bristol were axed.
While the total number of cancelled easyJet flights at airports today is 53, the actual total is 46 because seven are duplicates – i.e. Edinburgh to Bristol is listed twice, once as an Edinburgh departure and once as a Bristol arrival.
Some 124 British Airways flights at London Heathrow Airport were cancelled today, although the airline stressed that affected passengers were given plenty of advance notice with these services all axed a few months ago.
UK airline passengers have been hit by disruption for several months due to a lack of staff after the companies let thousands of people go during the pandemic. Airlines, airports and ground handling firms are now struggling to recruit new staff and have their security checks processed amid a surge in demand since restrictions were lifted.