A mother has branded Ryanair a “disgrace” after her teenage autistic son was forced off a plane after a row over a comfort doll he wanted to bring on board.
Helen Estella took to social media to share how her son Leo, 15, experienced a “huge autistic meltdown” due to the way he was treated by staff, who went as far as calling the police over the incident.
Airline demanded payment to take doll on board
Leo and his carer had been trying to board the Ryanair flight from Alicante on Saturday.
Ms Estella, from Doncaster, said that it was demanded that he pay £25 to take his doll on board because it was classed as hand luggage.
She posted on Facebook, “This is my son Leo he is 15 he has severe autism and the mental capacity of a three year old."
Police were called and “physically touched” teenager
“Tonight Ryanair refused to let him fly home because he was distressed when they wouldn’t let him have his doll and demanded payment for it as hand luggage," continued Ms Estella.
The distressed mum claims that four or five police surrounded Leo and “physically touched” him and his doll, causing a "meltdown" which then led to him being unable to get on the flight.
The incident meant that Leo had to be looked after by an airport doctor and needed medication to help him calm down, his mother explained. As a result he needed to be put in a wheelchair.
Left at the airport
Leo and his carer were left at the airport after their baggage had been removed from the plane and, according to Ms Estella, offered no help from Ryanair other than to be told that the next flight back would be on the Tuesday.
The mum says that she had asked for special assistance for Leo on the Ryanair flight, but it had been refused because Leo was able to walk. She blasted the airline for being ignorant of “invisible disability” and pointed out that the carer had even been wearing a lanyard to make it clear that Leo needed assistance.
‘Ignorant’ actions of Ryanair staff
Leo and his carer were able to get home after they managed to get tickets on a Jet2 flight that same night. Ms Estella has praised the Jet2 staff for the way they dealt with Leo, sitting on the floor with him to calm him before he got on the flight.
She wrote, “Jet 2 I cannot thank you enough for getting my disabled vulnerable boy home and treating him with kindness dignity and respect, and most of all time. Autistic children need extra processing time not spanish Police threatening him with injections!
“The ignorant actions of Ryanair and ground staff escalated this situation.”