Traveling by plane can be a nightmare for many people, but it can be especially daunting for individuals who have disabilities.
A young boy and his family were traveling from Croatia back to their England home this past week when the Jet2 flight crew almost didn’t let them fly due to the boy requiring a scooter. Alex Johnson, the mother of 10-year-old Jack (who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy) wrote in a blog post that she was “mortified” over the situation.
The check-in clerk told the Johnson family that they had no record of Jack’s disability, and that they couldn’t accommodate his scooter. They were also told they might not be able to fly because any scooter like Jack’s required two days’ notice.
Then, the clerk asked, “Do you have proof your son is disabled?”
“I didn’t know whether to be sarcastic and say no he loves to ride a disability scooter and pretends to be disabled for fun, or to cry and shout he has a bloody terminal muscle-wasting condition,” Johnson wrote.
Trying to keep calm for her child’s sake, Johnson tried to explain Jack’s situation. That in itself wasn’t easy.
“We painfully have to talk about the full extent of Jack’s condition in front of him. The highlight is me having to show the check in operative his blue disabled badge to prove he is disabled,” Johnson wrote.
After two more hours of not knowing if they’d be flying home or not, Jet2 officials finally relented and allowed Jack to board with his scooter. The family’s ordeal continued the next day, however, when Jack had a “complete meltdown” over what had transpired.
The company has since made efforts to apologize for what happened.
“We have been in contact to unreservedly apologize for the upset caused, and we would like to reassure Jack, his family, and all our customers, that this is not our normal standard of service,” a Jet2 statement read.
This sort of treatment, toward a disabled child, no less, should never have happened. A person should not have to be treated in an undignified way to prove their disability, and it’s clear that Jack suffered emotionally.
More must be done, by Jet2 and other airlines, to ensure disabled passengers are treated fairly and in a respectable manner.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Russell Boyce/Reuters