Gil Dori, who has Muscular Spinal Atrophy, said he ‘could not board his BA flight due to discrimination by staff’
A disabled composer and musician claimed he “felt like a second-class citizen” when British Airways allegedly prevented him from boarding a flight because “it would have taken too long to load his mobility scooter.”
Gill Dori, who has a genetic muscle-wasting disease, said he was turned away from a flight from Phoenix to London by US border agents, on instruction from BA staff, as there was not enough time to get him on board.
“They told me that if I was not disabled then I would have been able to go through,” 31-year-old Mr Dori said.
British Airways disputed his claims saying he was still in the security queue when the gate closed. The airline booked him onto another flight the following day “as a gesture of goodwill”.
He accused BA of ‘handling the situation badly’ after he was denied access to his flight and later compensation (PA)
The Israeli composer and musician, who has spinal muscular atrophy, said his luggage was removed from the BA flight to Heathrow while he was stuck in a queue at security on October 16.
He claimed US Transport Security Agents, who had been sent by BA, told him there was not enough time for him to board the plane.
They added that an able-bodied passenger would have been allowed to board, he claimed.
Mr Dori told the Standard: “They said that they made the decision because I used a wheelchair and if it was an able-bodied person then they would not make this decision.
Mr Dori was flying to London where he was due to take a connecting flight to Tel Aviv
“They said it would take too long for them to get the wheelchair on the plane.”
Mr Dori filed a formal complaint to BA. He said: “The way BA handled the situation makes me feel like a second-class citizen.”
He was due to fly to London Heathrow (pictured) but was turned away from the security line at Sky Harbor airport (PA Archive/PA Images)
A spokesperson for BA told the Standard that Mr Dori has been referred to CEDR, the aviation regulator, if he wished to raise concerns over how his complaint was handled.
The musician flies every two or three months for work, usually for conferences, festivals, ensembles and collaborations for work.
He posted a long statement detailing the incident on Slipped Disc, a classical music website, saying he arrived at the airport two and a half hours before his flight to London, where he was due to take a connecting flight to Tel Aviv.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a rare, genetically inherited neuromuscular condition.
It causes progressive muscular weakness and loss of movement due to muscle wasting (atrophy).
This may affect crawling and walking ability, arm, hand, head and neck movement, breathing and swallowing.
(SMA Support UK)
He had asked BA staff to issue a gate pass for his friend, who usually “assists [him] with things skycaps cannot, such as standing up, and going to the bathroom”.
Mr Dori claimed he was delayed passing through security as he waited longer outside the gate with his friend but maintained he was still on time for his flight.
He said he was approached by TSA agents who told him the gate was closed and turned him away.
Mr Dori is considering taking legal action, saying: “It seems like they would not listen to me any other way.”
He said: “It’s very humiliating when something like that happens.
“It’s not even about compensation, it’s about treating me as a person that is not second-class.”
A spokesman for BA said: “We are happy to offer customers with additional needs assistance to help them travel to the aircraft and they are invited to board ahead of all other customers. Only people who are booked to travel with us may pass through security and proceed to the departure gate.
“We ask all of our customers to allow plenty of time to get to their gate. Unfortunately, at the time the gate closed, Mr Dori was still in the security queue.
“As a gesture of goodwill we rebooked him onto our next flight the following day.”
They added: “An able-bodied person would not have got through either.”