The mother of a disabled teenager who was kicked off a flight home to Europe after flying from New Zealand and Melbourne without issue, has slammed Emirates for its “inhumane discrimination” of her family.
French boy Eli, who has epilepsy, autism and severe learning difficulties, was returning home with his family after flying all over the world and spending a year with relatives in New Zealand.
Her husband, Kiwi Adam Brown, who had been living in Europe for the past 20 years, brought his wife and three sons to Auckland a year ago to became acquainted with his relatives.
The family was on the last leg of their trip home on Wednesday night, waiting to take off from Dubai to Lyon, France, when Eli was kicked off the plane.
His mother, Euronews reporter Isabelle Kumar, said the family had already flown 14 hours from Melbourne without issue before Eli was removed from his seat at Dubai because of his epilepsy, despite having medical clearance to fly.
“We told Emirates every step of the way that Eli had epilepsy (and autism) but when we asked for a seat with a vacant seat next to it in case he had a seizure they suddenly wanted to see the medical certificate,” Ms Kumar told Euronews.
“Once kicked off – your staff immediately agreed that he is fine to fly – as he has been with every flight with you @emirates. Now there is no flight home,” she tweeted.
“Kids totally distraught and humiliated. Where is your humanity?”
The family’s wonderful experience ended on a sour note with their treatment on the Emirates flight, Eli’s uncle Miles Brown told the New Zealand Herald.
“They said Eli wasn’t allowed on the plane, despite already taking two Emirates flights from New Zealand without a problem, despite his doctor on the phone saying he was fine, and an email and medical certificate saying the same,” he said, after being in contact with his brother.
“They kicked them off with such gusto, even threatened to get police to remove them.”
Ms Kurae revealed her dissatisfaction with the airline Wednesday night with a series of tweets explaining the family had been removed without a resolution on getting them home.
An Emirates spokesperson told Euronews it was “very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused to Ms Kumar and her family”.
“Such situations are usually difficult for operational staff to assess, and they opted to act in the best interest of our passengers’ safety as well as on advice from our medical team.
“Our customer service team has been in touch with the family, and we have offered them complimentary hotel stay while in transit and rebooked them on another flight departing on 26 July.”
Following international news of Eli’s treatment, the journalist shared follow-up tweets, updating that the family had been placed on another Emirates flight home.