The Court of Appeal upheld a county court decision to award compensation to a disabled woman on the grounds that Thomas Cook Tour failed to act “with common humanity.”
Mrs Janice Campbell, from Sheffield, was caught up among hundreds of British tourists as civil unrest broke out in Tunisia in 2011.
The woman, who suffers from arthritis, spent four hours standing while waiting for her flight at Monastir airport. Seeing other passengers being given a wheelchair, she asked Thomas Cook Tour staff to get one for her, as she was having trouble standing on her feet. “There is nothing we can do,” she was told by staff that left her in pain for four gruelling hours.
Judge Graham Robinson, of Sheffield County Court, was told the disabled woman condition rapidly deteriorated to the point she began vomiting.
Thomas Cook apologised to Mrs Campbell, blaming the “urgent nature” of the evacuation for the unavailability of a wheelchair.
In 2013, Judge Robinson ruled in her favour, awarding damages against Thomas Cook. ''This is such a clear case that it is, frankly, a simple case of the defendant failing to act with common humanity towards a person in obvious difficulty and distress,” he said.
Thomas Cook appealed the ruling arguing that Mrs Campbell’s disability rights where limited under EU regulation, and that the incident occurred outside the European Union.
Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Vos said there is ''nothing to stop the UK legislating for additional duties not covered by the Regulation''.
''All I wanted was a seat. Hopefully this very good judgment will make a difference,” Mrs Campbell said.
This ruling is just one of the disability related cases for which beleaguered Thomas Cook has been making the headlines this week.
Last Sunday, war hero Ben Parkinson MBE and five fellow servicemen were told they could not go to the toilet on a Thomas Cook flight from Cyprus. Injured personnel were told there was no on board wheelchair, contrary to what Thomas Cook Airlines say on their website. “It’s not my problem,” the First Officer of the flight allegedly told the group.
"We’d like to sincerely apologise to Mr Parkinson and his family and assure them that Thomas Cook Airlines takes its responsibilities to disabled customers very seriously," A spokesperson for Thomas Cook Airlines said. "We immediately launched a full investigation into the issues raised by Mr Parkinson about his flight this weekend."