Airplane fall leaves elderly couple injured and ignored


An elderly Benfleet couple spent 10 days in hospital overseas after a dream holiday turned into a nightmare before they had even left the airport.

Constance and Raymond Heath, aged 79 and 82 took a flight to Cape Verde with Thomson Holidays on 21st December 2009 for a Christmas break. Both had difficulty walking, relying on sticks to get around, and had therefore pre arranged assistance with Thomson to enable them to disembark the plane. But when the airport’s local handling agents failed to turn up, the flight crew became concerned about missing its take off slot and insisted that the Heaths should disembark the steps of the plane alone.

Raymond said:

Airplane Accidents on Stairs"The crew began to usher us out of the aircraft along with other special needs passengers - even the Pilot came out to see what was causing the delay."

"One of the cabin crew shouted at us to 'hurry up as they only had a 25 minute turnaround time'."

"When we approached the top of the steps, I spoke to the cabin crew standing at the exit with us and queried why no escort?"

"They replied that it was not their job and that they could not turn around with passengers on board, and that we must try. As we began struggling down the steps, we heard someone shout 'get off the plane!' and the next minute lost our footing and fell from the top of the stairs to the runway."

Constance was knocked unconscious and suffered head injuries, serious multiple bruises and lacerations, and was forced to spend the entire holiday in a dirty local hospital, rather than the 4 star resort they had chosen months earlier.

Raymond suffered an injury to his shoulder but was able to visit Constance every day with edible food. It seemed the level of service – or rather lack of – which had characterised the beginning of their holiday continued: "I contacted Thomson and they offered absolutely no help," said Raymond. "My wife was lying in a hospital bed and what was meant to be time relaxing together was hell on earth. She needed to be in her own home but we were stuck in a foreign country with no help from Thomson."

Since returning to the UK Constance has not recovered from the fall and remains in a fragile condition. Thomson Holidays have denied liability on the basis of a legal technicality and the Heath’s £3657.20 Christmas holiday remains a very costly regret.

The couple has sought legal advice from specialist travel lawyer, Simon Lomax at Simpson Millar Solicitors. He said:

"This is a tragic example of terrible customer service and care. I am horrified at Thomson’s treatment of Constance and Raymond and their refusal to compensate them for their experience, which has left them physically and emotionally scarred."

Raymond added:

"My wife is now permanently a bed patient. She is in a lot of pain and suffers from very severe headaches. To put it bluntly out lives are now ruined. We are helpless and I am angry and distressed to see my wife in such agony."

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