Paralympian Sophia Warner asked by EasyJet employee to prove she is disabled
A British Paralympic athlete says she is furious after she was asked to prove that she was disabled by an employee of budget airline EasyJet.
Sophia Warner, a 43-year-old track and field Paralympian who has cerebral palsy, was flying from Milan to London when an EasyJet worker raised doubts about her need for special assistance.
Warner, who earned a silver and a bronze medal at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships, took to social media after the incident to lament the way she was treated.
"I’ve not complained on twitter before. The order to publicly prove my disability incident by @easyJet yesterday was beyond devastating," wrote the athlete.
"I was told ‘you look completely normal. Why do you need help’ I cried all the way home. I don’t even know where to begin with a complaint."
Multiple people tweeted back at Warner to share their own struggles with "invisible disabilities," a term commonly used to refer to handicaps that don't necessarily present themselves with any physical symptoms.
"I fell your pain
@SprintingSophia," one woman wrote. "I was interrogated on a bus the other day, asked for ID and told I 'don't look very disabled' because I have a disabled rail card. (I am deaf.) Well done for highlighting!"
"As a young woman with CP, all I can do is offer empathy and solidarity in that situation," shared another Twitter used. "I hope you’re ok."
A spokeswoman for EasyJet extended an apology to Warner, stating, "We’re sorry to hear of Ms. Warner’s experience. The agent involved is employed by Airport Handling and both he and they have assured us that he was trying to ascertain what assistance was required to help Ms. Warner."
"However, this was clearly not handled as sensitively as we would have liked," she continued. "We will investigate this with Airport Handling to ensure any lessons can be learned and changes are made to how they train their staff."