…By Alan Peterson for TDPel Media.
A woman named Victoria Devorie faced a ban from a return flight from Jamaica after an incident occurred on the plane.
She arrived at the airport ready to fly back home but was informed at the check-in counter that she was not allowed on the TUI flight.
Moreover, she was told that she was not permitted on any of the airline’s alternative flights.
Victoria, a 44-year-old resident of Crosby, experienced a distressing situation as she was left stranded at the airport without water for a grueling nine hours.
Eventually, she had to wait for a later flight with a different airline.
Problems Arise Due to Autism and Miscommunication
Victoria, who is autistic, encountered difficulties during her travel from Gatwick Airport to Montego Bay, Jamaica, on June 8.
The trouble began when she needed to use the restroom on the plane and opted for the one closest to the galley.
An announcement had been made on the plane stating that the galley was a working kitchen and passengers should not cross into it.
However, Victoria momentarily entered the galley to make way for another passenger while waiting to use the restroom.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, she explained that a crew member reprimanded her like a child for this action.
As an individual with autism, certain situations can trigger different responses such as fight, flight, or freeze.
Initially freezing, Victoria apologized to the crew member, explaining that she was not intentionally disregarding the rules, but simply trying to accommodate another passenger.
She felt that the crew member was being unnecessarily combative and spoke to her in an inappropriate manner.
Upset and Confusion Lead to Further Confrontation
The incident left Victoria feeling upset and confused, causing her to mistakenly exit the plane in the wrong direction. At this point, she was again scolded by a flight attendant.
Victoria requested the person’s name, but instead of providing it, she was informed that she was still in the galley.
She attempted to convey that she had not intentionally entered the galley, and she apologized for the misunderstanding.
Victoria even pointed out the crew member’s use of misogynistic language and expressed her displeasure with it.
Despite her attempts to clarify the situation, she felt treated in an unacceptable manner.
Miscommunication Regarding Autism Awareness
Victoria mentioned that TUI was aware of her autism before the flight.
She claims to have communicated this information to the airline during her interactions with them, including when she booked her holiday.
However, a TUI spokesperson stated that Ms. Devorie did not discuss her autism with the TUI customer service team at any point during the booking process or before departure.
The spokesperson added that TUI has a support team available to assist customers who may require additional support during their holiday.
Denied Boarding and Stranded at the Airport
Upon arriving at a hotel, Victoria encountered several issues which she reported to TUI.
As compensation, she received £250.
However, when she tried to check in online 48 hours before her flight back home, she was unable to do so.
When she contacted TUI customer service, she was assured that everything was fine.
Nevertheless, upon arriving at the airport on June 22, Victoria was handed a letter stating that she was not allowed on the TUI flight.
Furthermore, she discovered that she couldn’t board any other TUI flights.
As a result, Victoria found herself facing a hefty £2,500 bill for a Virgin flight to Heathrow, while her partner was able to travel home on the original TUI flight due to the unavailability of alternative options.
She spent a frustrating nine hours at the airport, feeling upset and disconnected from her surroundings.
Her phone died, preventing her from staying in contact with her mother, and she didn’t have the necessary cable to charge it.
Victoria experienced a meltdown as the situation played repeatedly in her mind, and she was deeply distressed by the accusation that she was drunk, arguing with the crew, and repeatedly entering the galley.
Feelings of Unwantedness and Advocacy for Disability Awareness
Victoria expressed that the incident with the TUI crew member made her feel unwanted, vulnerable, and afraid, causing severe panic attacks.
She believes that when someone discloses their disability during the booking process, the airline should take appropriate measures such as flagging it or requiring the person to wear a lanyard with sunflowers, the globally recognized symbol for individuals with disabilities.
In response to the situation, a TUI spokesperson expressed regret over the events that led to Victoria being denied boarding.
They emphasized that the safety and security of all passengers and crew are their top priority.
The airline maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards disruptive behavior on their flights, and it is deemed unacceptable to disregard crew safety commands.
TUI aims to provide a smooth travel experience from start to finish and has a dedicated team to assist customers who require additional support during their holiday.
However, they maintained that the passenger did not discuss her specific needs with the TUI customer service team during the booking process or before departure.
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