Ryanair has been blasted online after demanding a carer pay to take a autistic boy’s comfort doll on board. The doll, which was smaller than a watermelon, was deemed to be outside of the child’s baggage allowance on April 27th.
Many have been quick to criticize Ryanair on social media. The boy and his mother were reportedly detained, and as such, missed the Ryanair flight. In the end, they were flown home from Alicante a few hours later. There seems, however, to be disagreement between Ryanair’s version of events and the mother’s story.
The incident occurred on April 27th. According to iNews, the whole saga started when the boy, named Leo, was refused special assistance at Alicante Airport “because he could walk”. Leo was travelling with his carer Laura while his mother underwent surgery.
His mother, Helen, claims that staff demanded his carer pay £25 for the privilege of taking the doll on board. She states that she wouldn’t have minded paying this, however, when a member of staff touched Leo, this triggered a meltdown.
After this, police were called to attend the incident. “Four or five” officers responded to the incident, further escalating the meltdown. Leo was denied travel by Ryanair, however, Jet2 had no issue flying him home. A series of tweets sent from a new Twitter account at the time of the incident appears to be from his mother:
@Ryanair my severely autistic son is at Alicante airport now. He has severe learning disabilities and has had a meltdown. After carers have calmed him you have refused to let me on the plane!!! You have denied him special assistance because he can walk!! what do we do disgraceful
@Ryanair Are you going to help my disabled son! how can you deny him special assistance all disabilities aren’t visible? This situation has been caused because you wanted to charge him to take his doll on board!!!
Ryanair had a very different version of events according to a statement made to The Metro. They said: “At passport control, the teenager became agitated and aggressive towards his carer and the carer took the decision not to travel.”
They went on to add, “These two passengers did not arrive at the boarding gate, and therefore, they were not “denied boarding” and neither were they charged for any hand luggage.”
Thoughts on the matter
Without any hard evidence to back either party up, it is hard to decide whose version of events is correct. It is believed that the mother was not present when the incident took place, so the details could have become blurred somewhere along the line. It would also seem unlikely that such a large airline would lie about the circumstances considering the potential consequences if they were later proven.
Regardless of whose version of events is correct, one thing seems clear. A passenger should not be charged £25 for taking such a doll on board. It appears as though it was quite clear that the teenager needed the doll. While it is perfectly justified to charge extra for non-essential hand luggage, common sense should have prevailed in this case, if indeed the passenger was charged.
Was Ryanair right to charge £25 for the doll? Which version of events do you believe? Let us know in the comments.