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‘Completely humiliated’: 6ft 2ins disabled passenger’s fury at having to squeeze out ‘3ft door’ on Loganair flight

Malcolm Ritchie says he was faced with two different "almost impossible" options to get off the plane.

Malcolm Ritchie sitting in the scooter he used on the Loganair flight with wheelchair next to him.
Malcolm Ritchie ordinarily uses a wheelchair but takes his scooter when travelling.

A 6ft 2ins disabled passenger says he was completely “embarrassed” after being given two “almost impossible” options to get off a Loganair flight from Aberdeen – including crouching through a 3ft door.

Malcolm Ritchie was a bus driver for 20 years but was forced to take early retirement due to severe sciatica pains in his back.

The 69-year-old, who uses a wheelchair and scooter, and his stepson Andrew, 37, who is also his carer, flew from Aberdeen to Manchester for a dream trip to watch Manchester United.

However, despite a ramp being in place to get on the plane leaving the north-east, Mr Ritchie was horrified when none arrived after they landed in England.

Instead, the 6ft 2ins and 17-stone passenger was told he would be “bounced” down the aircraft steps in a wheelchair – a process he said would have found incredibly painful due to his sciatica.

Declining that option, he was then told the only other way to attempt to duck through a 3ft access door used to bring supplies on board – a process he says was painful and “humiliating”.

Loganair has stressed it encourages all customers to adhere to the advice from ground staff.

‘I was looking at two almost impossible options’

Portlethen resident Mr Ritchie and his stepson were preparing for the trip of a lifetime to watch the team they have always support from afar from the first time.

They had a meal booked at Old Trafford for the match and they had notified Loganair in advance of the mobility issues.

The 3ft door on the Longanair flight that disabled Aberdeen passenger, Malcolm Ritchie, exited the aeroplane through.
The door Mr Ritchie exited the aeroplane through. Image: Malcolm Ritchie

All was going well until the flight landed in Manchester and Mr Ritchie discovered there was no ramp to help him get off the plane.

Anxious about the prospect of being “bounced” down the steps, he initially asked for a lift positioned at the other side of the aircraft to be brought from the other side to the passenger door.

However, when he was told that was not possible he instead opted to duck and crouch his way through the small door the lift was next to.

Side view of Loganair plane on runway.
The door Mr Ritchie used is at the rear of the aircraft and is much smaller than normal passenger doors. Image: Shutterstock

Mr Ritchie said: “It was a little hatch, a service door, about 3ft or 4ft tall. I’m 6ft 2ins and one of the main problems I have is twisting and crouching.

“I was standing there looking at these two different almost impossible options for me trying to choose the one that would do me least harm.

“If I was taken down the stairs I would have had serious problems, but I had to get off the aircraft so I thought I would try this door.

“It was excruciating, I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my life. In this day and age I can’t believe this is what disabled people have to choose between. I was completely humiliated.”

‘I had no other option’

After their ordeal at the airport, Mr Ritchie, who was still in pain, and his stepson travelled to Old Trafford to watch their heroes hammer Chelsea 4-1.

Following his experience getting off the plane, he praised the facilities for disabled fans at Manchester United.

Mr Ritchie said: “It couldn’t have been better. There was a lift up to the restaurant and then I could take the scooter right to the seats.”

Malcolm Ritchie holding up a Manchester United shirt with Casemiro 18 on the back.
Mr Ritchie with a souvenir from his trip to watch Manchester United.

When the duo returned to Manchester Airport for the flight home the following day they were met with a similar ordeal again.

However, following his experience with the service door, this time Mr Ritchie chose to take the stairs.

He said: “They offered to take me up again in the narrow little chair again, but I didn’t think the ground staff would be able to lift me safely.

“I took my time going up the steps, it took me about 15 minutes. I had no other option, my back was bad enough from the day before.”

Mr Ritchie has pursued Loganair for a refund following his experience at Manchester Airport, but has only received an apology by e-mail.

He says he now intends to pursue a complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority.

aberdeen airport
Mr Ritchie praised the service at Aberdeen Airport. Image: Paul Glendell/ DC Thomson.

An airline spokesman told the Press & Journal: “The safety of our customers and staff is always the number one priority for Loganair.

“We regularly support customers with reduced mobility on their travel and ask that if any special assistance is required, that this is relayed to our customer services team prior to departure.

“We encourage all customers to adhere to the advice and support of ground staff and cabin crew at all times.”