A mother whose son was told he could not board an easyJet flight due to his Tourette's Syndrome has accused the airline of 'discrimination'.
Joanne Dooley was flying to Amsterdam with son Josh, husband Richard, and their daughter Rose, to celebrate Josh's 18th birthday.
As they boarded the plane last Friday the captain pulled the family to one side and told them they could not join the flight.
"He told us he had heard Josh had Tourette's and that he might shout 'bomb' and scare other passengers," Joanne told Yahoo News UK.
"We had no obligation to advise the airline of anything. But, several weeks before, I had contacted easyJet at Liverpool Airport to request special assistance and to forewarn that Josh has Tourette's.
"Special Assistance were extremely helpful in ensuring we had a relaxed experience checking in and reaching the plane, then suddenly this happened."
Dooley said that the family were pulled aside by the captain and other staff and told: "You're not boarding this plane".
She advised that there was no reason why they shouldn't, and cited the 2010 Equalities Act.
She said: "I told them this was discrimination and not legal, but the captain would not listen. Josh can get anxious, and anxiety can exacerbate tics.
"We had taken measures to create a calm experience but this backfired and actually created a situation that caused great anxiety for both him and his sister.
"We were finally allowed to board, but we were all left traumatised by the experience."
Dooley said that after 25 minutes the captain returned to the plane, spoke to a colleague, then gave them a "thumbs up" through the window.
She said: "I found this incredibly patronising, and not at all appropriate given the gravity of the situation."
When the family walked on the plane a fellow passenger asked her son: "Are you the reason we were delayed?", before a member of staff tried to move them from their pre-booked seats to the back of the plane.
She said: "To add insult to injury I was then brought a can of Coke by way of an 'apology' from the captain. We were all shaken by the episode and just wanted to get through the flight and get off the other end. A can of coke really wasn't what was needed."
When the family arrived at their hotel Dooley, a secondary school teacher, documented their experience and shared a video on Facebook detailing what had happened. The clip had been viewed more than 2,000 times by Monday lunchtime.
Dooley said that she hoped by sharing her family's experience the company would now invest in disability awareness training so staff understand Tourette's Syndrome.
She said: "Not only did it ruin our holiday, but there is a bigger issue - the fact that easyJet staff have no understanding of Tourette's and are prejudiced due to misconceptions of what it is."
Tourette's Syndrome is a condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing sufferers to make repeated movements and sounds, also known as motor and vocal tics, that they cannot control.
One in ten people with Tourette's may have coprolalia - meaning they involuntarily blurt out obscenities. The Dooleys had advised special assistance officers that Josh suffered coprolalia as part of his Tourette's.
Dooley said the family did not advise airline staff of Josh's condition on the way home.
She said: "We couldn't face another ordeal so kept as calm as possible and just got ourselves home. The two hen parties on board caused much more disruption to fellow passengers than we ever have!"
Charity group Tourette's Action has called for easyJet to "educate" staff to avoid similar incidents in future.
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The charity's CEO Emma McNally said: "While I have no words for this horrendous experience that this family experienced whilst boarding their flight and it 100% should never have happened, I don’t want it to turn into a blame and shame, I rather want to give easyJet the opportunity to put this right.
"I want to educate the workforce to stop things like this happening again.
"Tourette’s is quite possibly one of the most stigmatised and misunderstood conditions out there. One of our goals at Tourette’s Action is to educate organisations to ensure people with Tourette’s are understood and accepted."
A spokesman for easyJet told Yahoo News UK: "It is incredibly important to easyJet that our customers feel supported when they fly with us and we are very sorry that this was not the Dooley family’s experience.
"We have been in touch with them to apologise and understand more about their experience as we always want the highest levels of care to be shown to all our customers. We are also meeting with Tourettes Action to explore how we and our partners can apply any learnings.”