Air France Refuses To Take Disability Campaigner Gordon Aikman On Paris Honeymoon Because Wheelchair Is Too Big
Gordon Aikman, who suffers with Motor Neurone Disease, was forced to cancel his flight and rebook with another airline at the last minute or else risk missing out on celebrating the special holiday with husband Joe Pike.
The activist, who is paralysed and has raised more than £400,000 for MND research through his charity Gordon’s Fightback , prompted a Twitter storm when he shared his ordeal on social media.
The 30-year-old from Edinburgh tried to get in touch with Air France for days, only to be told on Friday, two days before he was due to fly today, he could not take his wheelchair on board.
Speaking to the Mirror Online, he said he was “disgusted” with the way he had been treated by the airline, adding that since he could no longer walk or move his hands, life was “not worth living” without his wheelchair.
He said: “It took more than a week calling a rip off a premium number and spending a fortune asking whether I could take the wheelchair on board before I finally got an answer.
“Finally they got back to me and told me I could not take my wheelchair with me because it was too big for the hold.
“I am paralysed. Life without my chair would not be worth living. It is my legs. No one would say to an able-bodied passenger ‘Your legs are too big’.
“There was no attempt to resolve the situation, and I was not offered a refund. I was forced to cancel the flight and rebook with easyjet, or my husband and I would not have been able to go on our honeymoon today.
“Air France needs to change the way it treats disabled people. It is disgusting they should be treating people like this in 2016.
“No one should be treated like this. It does not matter who they are, this sort of behaviour can’t go on. If there really is no space on the aeroplane, airline should be upfront about it.”
On Friday Mr Aikman tweeted a picture of the letter rejecting his appeal to fly, saying: “‘Sorry sir, you can’t take your legs on this @AirFranceUK flight’ Thanks guys!”
The message drew calls for the airline to accommodate him from other Twitter users, including Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who sent a message saying: “Hey, @AirFranceUK, all this guy wants to do is go on his honeymoon. What can you do to make that happen?”
Before his diagnosis, Mr Aikman was the director of research for the pro-Union Better Together campaign ahead of the Scottish referendum and a Scottish Labour party press officer.
As well as raising hundreds of thousands for MND research, his charity Gordon’s Fightback has united Scottish politicians across the party spectrum to secure the promise of better legislation for sufferers.
Mr Aikman said he wanted an apology from the highest level of Air France for the unacceptable way he had been treated.
He said: “I deserve a full refund and an apology from the Chief Executive himself. If they want to turn this into a good news story, Air France could also donate to Gordon’s Fightback.”
MND is a progressive, terminal disease involving degeneration of the motor neurons and wasting of the muscles.
Mr Aikman, who managed to walk down the aisle in March last year, now relies on his husband and on carers to feed, wash and dress him.
Air France has been approached for comment.