When two elderly sisters went on a two-day trip to Dublin they thought they were in for a relaxing birthday treat.

But instead Daphne Bailey and Maureen Evans, both registered disabled, said they were left stranded on their Ryanair plane for an hour-and-a-half after it had landed, left climbing on their hands and knees up stairs while people watched and left waiting in the corner of an airport for help which never arrived.

They said they were even given special assistance vouchers at check-in and told they would be given wheelchairs and support through the trip but were left crying on airport seats after no help materialised.

A spokeswoman from Ryanair said the sisters did not book special service 48 hours in advance as required and denied they were kept waiting as long as they claimed.

Mrs Bailey, of Myrtle Crescent, Lancing, was celebrating her 60th birthday with a one-night stay with two friends and sister Mrs Evans, 72, of Friar Walk, Worthing. She suffers from osteoporosis and cannot balance without walking sticks so always asks for a wheelchair and help when she flies.

Mrs Bailey said she always gets this at check-in and had never heard of the 48-hour rule before.

Mrs Evans also has problems walking more than a few yards, has just recovered from heart surgery and is diabetic.

The pair said they booked special assistance when they arrived in Gatwick last Thursday and were given a voucher but were instead confronted with the worst journey of their lives.

They said they were left waiting on the plane in Dublin for an hour-and-a-half before someone arrived to pick them up and another hour when the plane touched down in Gatwick.

The distressed sisters said they had to be lowered from the emergency exit into a van after their plane landed at Gatwick.

They were then taken to the staff entrance in the main building where they were told to wait for further assistance.

After no-one turned up for 40 minutes they say they were forced to hobble their way out of the airport alone, crying and crawling along the way as airport staff looked on.

They had expected to be home by 9pm but instead found themselves getting through their doors exhausted at 12.30am.

Mrs Bailey said: "The assistance we were promised wasn't forthcoming in any way and we were stranded four times - it was just so degrading.

"I have never been so stressed in all my life.

"At one stage my sister just sat and cried on the steps."

Mrs Evans said: "There just wasn't any support. We didn't have very long in Dublin so the hours were precious but the whole holiday was ruined by the service we didn't receive.

"Even the stewards on the plane said they were disgusted by the way we were being treated.

"We have both been in bed ever since trying to get over the experience - I think it was the worst thing we have ever been through, it frightened the life out of us."

The Ryanair spokeswoman said: "Mrs Bailey and Mrs Evans did not request wheelchair assistance in advance of their flight as they are required to do and sought assistance only upon checking in for their return flight at Dublin airport.

"Our handling agents have confirmed that Mrs Bailey and Mrs Evans were waiting no longer than 20 minutes for wheelchair assistance at Gatwick."

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