x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

FlyDubai apologies to blind man kept off plane

Low-cost carrier regretful after it refused to allow a blind passenger to travel to Jordan without a companion.

DUBAI // Low-cost airline FlyDubai has apologised to a blind passenger after refusing to let him travel to Jordan yesterday because he was flying alone.  

"This morning's events were extremely unfortunate and should not have happened," said executive officer Ghaith al Ghaith yesterday. "We will conduct a full investigation to find out what went wrong in this situation and take all means necessary to ensure it does not happen again." 

The airline offered to arrange a new flight for Zuhair Mahmoud and provide a voucher for a free flight.  Mr Mahmoud, a naturalised US citizen, was travelling to Jordan to visit relatives before returning to the United States to begin a job as an IT specialist for the Library of Congress. Mr Mahmoud said he normally asks for assistance getting through security and passport control and to the gate at unfamiliar airports. Once on the plane, he said, he can manage by himself: he has memorised where the exits are for various models of planes. 

When he arrived at the FlyDubai counter at the airport yesterday morning, however, he said he was told that people with disabilities could not board the plane if they were travelling alone. Mr Mahmoud said he had previously travelled to 20 countries and had never been prevented from boarding a plane.  chuang@thenational.ae