Airport Escalator Injury Torments Travelers

July 16, 2011

in Illness/Medical Stories

It was the first vacation for several years and we really looked forward to it. Our holiday, such as it was, started on the 9th of September at Gatwick Airport where, on arrival, my wife was subject to a fall on the entry escalator. The escalator had a direction sign for EasyJet departures but none for lifts? She sustained an excruciating chest complaint that was caused by falling and trying to pull herself up with one hand whilst her hand luggage was pulling her in the opposite direction. Such was the onslaught of people trying to pass on the escalator that she sustained a push. That left her unable to breath for a considerable time and unable to walk without assistance because she had stretched her rib cage.

We had arrived in good time for the book-in; in fact we were there just after 3am for the 5.50am flight to Thessaloniki. However, the amount of people who pushed and complained on the escalator while she was trying to reestablish an upright position was unbelievable. There was a rush, for what I don’t know, but everyone was directed up this escalator. At the top was even more confusion as there was no sign of which direction to take, but the crowd gave us little choice. I had my wife on one arm with two small hand baggage wheelies and another bag to go into checked baggage.

On entering with the crowd in the hall we were confused as to where we should book in. On the left hand side there were a great number of desks stating, “ALL EASYJET FLIGHT BOOKINGS.” It was solid with masses of people who seem just as confused as us. On the right hand side there were again other groups going round in a spiral direction, also pushing towards EasyJet bookings. I enquired with several different families waiting in line where they were going and the answer was Helkidiki (Hal`kidiki), but none had any idea where that was. I am fortunate to be able to speak a little Greek and knew that this was the correct place for us to book in.

The staff at the desk were very sympathetic and my wife managed to get transportation to the aircraft. It was really touch and go. She refused medical attention because we had waited with such eagerness to get the holiday, the first for several years, and getting a medic would mean losing the flight. I can’t believe how far it is to walk from the departure lounge to the aircraft.

We then endured the trying-to-sit-together position and surviving all of the misery of getting on the flight. EasyJet kept us sitting in the plane for over an hour at the departure gate!!!! It was intolerable. The flight – already a three hour endurance test in a cramped position – now became four hours. I had a middle seat position where the seat in front was unable to stay upright, the large person in the seat seemed unaware that (despite my requests) this was not the norm. I had to endure the whole journey in a crouched position unable to use the tray at feeding time, and turning a page of our purchased newspaper was very difficult. On arrival to Macedonia Airport we succeeded to get help to the airport bus, through passport control, and my waiting car.

The first week was very difficult; my wife developed a breathing condition from the fall and found it hard to leave our hotel room. We decided to call it a day on the 15th of September after only six days and return home to Gatwick. I had with me my mobile phone and also the use of a mainline telephone in the village where we were staying where I purchased several phone cards. The phone numbers given out to me by EasyJet staff and customer service were confirmed to be correct by e-mail before I left U.K., e.g. 0044 825200xxxx and customer experience team 0044 0871244xxxx.

After three days and nights I tried to get some attention via the Greek Internet Café,  but the local one consisted of mostly games, and since I was the only customer, closed down later that day for the winter season. I spent £25 on phone calls and another £12 on my mobile direct to CUSTOMER SERVICE. I was on the telephone every day and night, but this number given out is not available!!

I have all the records of my mobile calls showing how many times I tried to make contact, and in frustration how many variations of the number I tried. It was only through direct contact with Ireland, another £6, I was able to understand that the only seats available were on the flight the day after my own normal return.

Surely in this day and age it is not so unexpected to believe that every aircraft keeps a least two seats for emergencies where people must return? I contacted EasyJet and received neither help or sympathy, and yes you’ve guessed it, I have also written to the Chief Executive, who ignores our communications.

Signed – Ron

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Susu July 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I can tell that this is the first time in years that you have flown anywhere.

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david July 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm

something doesnt add up here

your wife fell on the escalator and people went right past her while she was holding onto her carryon, first of all most people wouldnt be able to get around a fallen person on a escalator and many would help and why wouldnt she let go of her carryon to get up? and why would someone push someone who was already down?

how do you stretch a rib cage?

to be considered an "emergency" the airline needs some form of proof such as a doctors note, i know that when a family member has passed airlines will do what they can to get you on the flight but it isn't a guarantee, it is a business and they dont want empty seats

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ron July 17, 2011 at 1:07 am

You add up David, which air line do you work for?
She was pushed , have you tried to pull yourself up with a free hand whilst the rest of your body is being pulled the other way by your luggage.
When you are nearly ninety and suffering from arthritis you expect to use a lift .
perhaps you should slow down and read the article properly………………………

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david July 17, 2011 at 3:02 am

i dont work for any airline, never will, have have, just fly alot

how was anyone supposed to know your age? it has no reference anywhere in the story, yes older individuals are more likely to get injured but this could have happened to anyone

still dont know how you stretch a rib though? its not a muscle

and yes i have, when i tried to pick up a doll that a girl dropped and tangled myself in a loose strap, thats why i let go so i had 2 hands to work with to help me up

i refuse to believe people were rushing past a person who fell on a escalator and to push her

i flew out of gatwik to madeira and there were lifts (elevators)

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James July 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

I've suffered an EasyJet flight — never again. They make the American inexpensive airlines look luxurious.

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Sacha August 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I find it hilarious that you think airlines keep empty seats on every single flight for "emergencies where people must return". Thessaloniki is in Greece–Greece is part of the EU and one can therefore extrapolate that they have adequate medical care, so why didn't you go to a doctor or emergency room there? Did you pay for emergency seats on every single aircraft leaving Greece for London? Then you don't get to use them. I would understand a complaint if they had made you pay the usual hundreds of dollars of fees to switch–which in your situation would have been wrong for them to do. But you expect airlines to keep seats open "just in case" when there are plenty of people willing to pay for and use them? Get real. I've been on 7 flights in the past year. 6 were full.
I've also been through Gatwick in the past year and found it extremely easy to navigate. Then again, I speak fluent English…
I find it hard to believe that people pushed past a ninety-year-old woman on an escalator and would not help her. There is absolutely no one I know who would have done that. It is incomprehensible that NO ONE helped. Perhaps one or two people would have pushed in a hurry, but within a whole crowd of (presumably British) people, SOMEONE would have helped her up, carried her bag, etc.

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