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Paralympian Matt Byrne Left Behind By RyanAir Flight

June 7, 2019

A Paralympian has said he was stopped from boarding a Ryanair flight because it was “running late”.

Paralympics GB’s Matt Byrne said he waited at the Dublin Airport gate for an hour before take off but the pilot left without him.

The basketball bronze medallist from the Athens and Beijing games had been due to catch a flight to Birmingham on Monday evening.

He said he has been told Ryanair is investigating.

The 44-year-old from Nottinghamshire said he was “shocked” and the pilot “was wrong” to deny him access.

Mr Byrne has used a wheelchair for 29 years after a motor cross accident left him paralysed from the waist down.

He said he checked in with the special assistance team on arriving at Dublin airport.

“With Ryanair, if you have mobility problems you are last on the plane which is stupid really,” he said.

“All the passengers went through and down the stairs, so I went down the lift and waited there when staff said to me ‘the pilot’s refusing to take you because he’s running late’.

“It would have taken five minutes max to get me on that plane.

“I didn’t miss that flight. I was ready to get on that plane, But it was the Ryanair pilot’s decision to not let me on.”

Mr Byrne said when using other airlines wheelchair users boarded before other passengers.

“At the London Paralympics it was all about equality and bringing disability rights to the forefront, but Ryanair don’t get that,” he added.

“They’re lucky I can look after myself, but if it was someone with worse conditions, or more frail it could have been worse.”

Mr Byrne eventually caught a flight to Birmingham two hours later.

In a statement to the BBC the airline said: “Special assistance services at Dublin Airport are operated by OCS – at great expense to the airlines.”

OCS has been approached for a comment.

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