A disabled woman has urged Paralympics GB to boycott British Airways when travelling to the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after saying the airline removed her from a flight and damaged her expensive electric wheelchair which she has been without for more than three months.
Athena Stevens, a 33-year-old American filmmaker, who lives in London, was travelling from London City Airport to Glasgow on 19 October 2015, when the incident occurred. Stevens claims she was taken off the fight after the airline could not fit her wheelchair in the plane's hold, even though she had informed the airline beforehand that she would be travelling with it.
"I was denied access to the flight due to my disability – cerebral palsy – which is against the law. I'm used to humiliating things happening but that was wrong," Athena Stevens told The Independent. "This isn't a toy they broke, it's my mobility. My entire life revolves around this wheelchair. Neither London City Airport nor British Airways have followed EU regulation," Stevens said.
Stevens said British Airways did not offer her a replacement flight and it took the airline three months to refund her ticket. Stevens, however, said the airline paid her compensation of £600 ($860). She also said the airline has not replaced or compensated her for damaging her £30,000 wheelchair.
"Tomorrow (28 January) will be 100 days without a wheelchair. I want an apology," Stevens told The Evening Standard. "I have not heard from British Airways directly at all. I have had no apology from London City Airport," she said.
"The events of 19 October  disabled me, more so than I was disabled before. Not having my wheelchair has made me very vulnerable," Stevens said. "The problem is, the chair is not being made anymore. There is a possibility that it would be able to be repaired in which case they will need to give me some money as compensation. Everything I do is based around this wheelchair."
"The airport is working with the passenger and British Airways to resolve this matter," a London City Airport spokesman said. "The situation is being dealt with by lawyers and we are therefore unable to provide further comment," the spokesman said.
"We are working with the customer and London City Airport to resolve the issue," a British Airways spokesman said. "However, as the matter is now in the hands of lawyers it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage," the BA spokesman said.