Woman forced to fly home after wheelchair damaged during BA flight from Glasgow to London Heathrow

A disabled woman is calling for more education, "inclusive thinking and consideration" after being forced to fly home as her wheelchair was damaged during a flight from Glasgow to London.

Cheri Burns was left stranded at Heathrow on arrival after discovering one of her wheelchair arm rests was missing and a wheel buckled.

Due to safety concerns, the 32-year-old had to get back on a flight to Scotland and was confined to her house until the wheelchair was repaired by the NHS.

Ms Burns said for many, walking equipment is a "lifeline".

She now hopes to raise awareness of the issues those with mobility difficulties face while travelling.

'My wheelchair is my independence'

Ms Burns told Sky News: "It hasn't been easy for me to highlight this, I usually shy away from vocalising my experiences, but feel it is my responsibility to help educate so that fewer people face similar experiences.

"My wheelchair is my independence, as is the same for a lot of people, and I ask for more inclusive thinking and consideration."

The incident happened during a British Airways flight on the morning of 9 February.

Ms Burns, who has been a wheelchair user since birth, said it was fully intact when it was taken from her on the plane in Glasgow to be stored in the hold.

She said: "The main issue was the missing arm rest. Without this, because of balance issues, it is unsafe for me to move around in my wheelchair, and I cannot execute necessary transfers, for example, because I could fall."

Ms Burns didn't make it out of Heathrow and flew back to Glasgow a couple of hours later. She then had to spend a day at home while awaiting the necessary repairs to be carried out.

The missing part has never been found.

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'My wheelchair is, effectively, my legs'

Ms Burns said: "Although BA did find me another flight and ensure I was comfortable, I'm sure you can imagine how frustrating and upsetting this was.

"My wheelchair is, effectively, my legs, and when that is damaged, I cannot function independently.

"I do not feel there is adequate understanding of the impact these all too regular occurrences have on people like myself."

Ms Burns, from Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire, travels frequently for work and leisure.

She added: "I am, now, undeniably nervous to fly again, but I am not going to let this stop me. It's part of the reason I want to highlight this, to help the carriers/companies understand and provide more inclusive service."

Ms Burns' plight comes amid television presenter Sophie Morgan championing the RightsOnFlights campaign.

The Loose Women star and disability activist has joined forces with Disability Rights UK and MP Marion Fellows to lobby the government into giving the Civil Aviation Authority the power to fine airlines and others who "fail in their obligations to disabled travellers".

A BA spokesperson said: "We're extremely sorry for our customer's experience and we've been in contact with them to sincerely apologise and to resolve the matter directly.

"We carry hundreds of thousands of customers who require additional assistance each year and we work hard to provide help and support them throughout the whole journey.

"It's extremely disheartening when things go wrong, and we don't underestimate the impact this has.

"We're committed to ensuring we deliver a consistently good service, and our dedicated accessibility teams work to continue to make improvements to ensure a great flying experience for everyone."