DUBAI, UAE — Emirates asked a teen suffering from epilepsy and his family to leave a flight against their will last week, reported The Guardian.
The move reportedly came despite the family having shown officials a certificate to prove the boy was clear to fly.
The Guardian reports Euronews journalist Isabelle Kumar, her 17-year-old son Eli, and the rest of the family last week boarded a flight bound for France from Dubai.
Before the trip, Kumar made sure Emirates was aware of Eli's condition, and that he needed a vacant seat next to him in case he had a seizure.
When Emirates asked to see a medical certificate, Kumar couldn't find it, so she called her doctor to email the certificate. When Eli's doctor wanted to speak to the flight attendants, they refused.
The flight attendants told them the certificate had to be shown to ground staff, despite the fact that the family had spoken to staff at check in and at the departure gate about their son's condition.
The attendants then told Kumar and her family that they need to leave the plane or else they would call the police.
Kumar posted a video of Eli, who was become anxious under the pressure, biting his arm and holding his head in his hands.
After leaving the plane without any further issue, an emergency medical team agreed that Eli was medically cleared to carry on with the trip.
Kumar claims the family continued to be treated badly and that the airline didn't do anything to improve their situation. Later, a different Emirates employee suggested that the family fly to Geneva the next day.
Kuman said travel is challenging for a child with special needs, especially when the child is being treated unfairly. She added that the incident wouldn't stop them travelling as family, but they will reconsider before travelling with Emirates in the future.
Charity group Epilepsy Action told the Guardian that epileptic episodes can be very distressing, and urged travel companies to ensure that their staff are trained to handle such episodes if they arise.
An Emirates spokesperson said the airline was very sorry for the distress and inconvenience brought upon Kumar and her family, and that they have offered them a complimentary hotel stay while in transit, and had re-booked them on another flight.