Flying to Tenerife, the hard way

Today we flew to Tenerife, but only after a medical emergency divert from over the Atlantic to land at Brest in France.

A 40s male disabled passenger collapsed about an hour into the flight, the first we saw was the crew running back with an oxygen cylinder then a call out for any doctor, nurse or paramedic to identify themselves. Fortunately a nurse was found, and we diverted. Sitting as we usually do in the front row for access we saw how the crew handled the situation very well. We offered some medical devices but the crew had all they needed.

As we landed another aircraft was being held on the runway start, letting us land ahead of their take off, then we brake like fury on what is left of the runway and an ambulance and support vehicles are waiting nearby. The man had rallied a bit by then and was talking as he was taken off with his two family members.

Then their bags and wheelchair are removed, a cabin security check, refuel, and off we go again. As the French paramedics enter the aircraft the crew have to check their ID badges at the door. The crew manager told us this was her first divert ever, seven years and around 2,000 flights in.

Good team work, and all safe.

But they say that no good deed goes unpunished, so when we arrive at Tenerife our own electric wheelchair is nowhere to be found after searching all the holds in the plane. Nada, we were told.

We struggle with an airport manual wheelchair, highly unsupportive and consequently painful, and make our way via all departments to the Easyjet desk and gathering a team of helpers as we go, the discussions going in English and Spanish via a bit of German. We complete all the paperwork, but no-one knows if our electric wheelchair is still in Manchester or has been incorrectly offloaded in France or where now. We will reimburse you if you have to buy clean underwear, the forms say in their lost-luggage thinking, but the notion of a lost wheelchair seems not to tick any of their boxes.

We have our contacts here so we arrange a replacement electric wheelchair from a hire business next to our hotel, and they are smashing and really do their best. But wheelchairs are like shoes, they do not all fit the same, and it cause problems if you try, so our make-do is unsatisfactory despite their help.

Then having checked in to the hotel we are both working the phones trying to speak to anyone who might have a clue, but the Easyjet call centre woman is in Cape Town and seems only to have Google as an office resource, and Manchester Airport can only find a phone number for the baggage handlers in Edinburgh, and another suggested enquiries number shuts at 5.30pm.

So, if any Easyjet or Menzies staff read blogs, you have our number and a call would be appreciated, and our wheelchair promptly reunited with us would be even better.

What are the odds?

  • Update

Over a day later, the wheelchair eventually arrived at the hotel with travel stickers showing its convoluted route of: Manchester – Brest – Paris – Gatwick – Tenerife South.

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