An arthritis sufferer from Yorkshire is entitled to damages after having to stand in airport queues because her package tour operator failed to find her a seat or wheelchair, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
Three senior judges upheld a county court decision to award £7,500 to Janice Campbell, from Sheffield, on the grounds that the failure by Thomas Cook staff to offer her effective help amounted to discrimination.
The county court judge also said staff had failed to act “with common humanity”.
The appeal judges said his decision was “impressive, well-reasoned and right”.
Welcoming the latest ruling, Mrs Campbell, 67, said: “All I wanted was a seat. Hopefully this very good judgment will make a difference.”
The damages under the 2010 Equality Act compensate her for the “substantial pain and discomfort” she endured at Monastir Airport in Tunisia in January 2011.
Mrs Campbell, who suffers from arthritis in her neck, back and right hip and gets migraines, was among hundreds of tourists flown back to the UK after civil unrest erupted in Tunisia.
Judge Graham Robinson, sitting at Sheffield County Court, heard she spent four hours at the airport on January 15.
When she informed staff she was unable to stand for long periods she was told “there is nothing we can do” – despite seeing other people being transported in wheelchairs.
At one stage she was told if she did not move to join another queue she would be left behind.
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook apologised to Mrs Campbell for its failure but said the “urgent nature” of the repatriation meant it was not possible to rearrange the necessary assistance and the company argued she was not entitled to a payout because the incident didn’t happen in the EU. The case was fast-tracked partly to clarify the law on payouts involving countries outside the EU.
However, in awarding damages, Judge Robinson said: “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.”