Family with son with epilepsy forced to leave Emirates Airline flight in Dubai

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Emirates Airline crew deboarded a family because one family member has epilepsy, despite the family had the correct medical certificate and the approval to fly. After making a stopover in Dubai, the entire family boarded a new aircraft to Paris. Isabelle Kumar, a journalist working at Euronews, wanted to fly back to France after spending a year in New Zealand with her companion and her three children. The explanation by the cabin crew was that the child could “annoy the other passengers“.

Elias (17) is autistic and has epileptic symptoms. Occasionally he has a seizure, especially in stressful situations, such as flying long-haul. If the family didn’t comply the crew members threatened with a police intervention. Despite a medical certificate stating that Elias was able to take a flight, the family was disembarked and left at Dubai Airport without knowing what to do, and without a single excuse from the airline.

Isabelle Kumar commented on the incident: “My son is in a state of distress, as he doesn’t understand what’s going on. It’s a total lack of humanity that is really shocking. We informed the airline that Elias often had epileptic seizures but when we asked for an empty seat next to him they suddenly wanted to see the medical certificate. Because we showed it to the cabin crew but not to the ground crew in Australia, they told us to get off the plane. We even had Elias’ doctor on the phone, but they refused to talk with him. They were confronted with a child with severe disabilities, but their response was to threaten to call the police if we didn’t get off, even though our luggage was still on the plane.

Back in the terminal, an Emirates Airline representative finally agreed that Elias could fly, but the family was refused boarding and saw their luggage being offloaded from the plane.

My two other sons, my twins, were in tears, they felt totally humiliated.”

After a few hours waiting at Dubai Airport, Emirates finally proposed a new solution to return to Europe. Yet without excuses.

Contacted by Euronews, Emirates answered on the matter:

We are sincerely sorry for the anguish and embarrassment caused to Ms. Kumar and her family, and these situations are generally difficult to assess for our staff and they have chosen to act in the interest of the safety of our passengers. As well as on the advice of our medical team, our customer service contacted this family: we offered them a hotel night and a new booking on another flight on July 26th.

On 27 July, Sophie Cluzel, a French politician serving as the Secretary of State in charge of People with Disabilities denounced the inappropriate behaviour of the airline: “This is a serious issue, it is discriminatory for people with disabilities not being able to board their flights. The family took all necessary precautions and preparations, yet they were denied boarding. The Emirates Airline cabin crew lacks training. The airline should offer clear communications and send the proper information to the crews. Something that needs to be worked on.

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