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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 18 August 2018

Emirates apologises for forcing epileptic boy and his family off plane

The family were due to fly from Dubai to France last week when the incident happened

Isabelle Kumar and her family were forcibly removed from an Emirates plane by staff after she asked to be sat next to her epileptic son. Rafael Marchante / Reuters
Isabelle Kumar and her family were forcibly removed from an Emirates plane by staff after she asked to be sat next to her epileptic son. Rafael Marchante / Reuters

Emirates Airline has apologised after forcing a disabled boy and his family off a plane.

The boy, 17, and his family boarded a flight from Dubai to France last week as part of a multiple stop journey to New Zealand by way of Australia last week.

According to The Guardian, Eli's mother, Euronews journalist Isabelle Kumar, had called ahead to ensure the airline could meet their needs and then asked a flight attendant for a seat beside her son in case he had a seizure.

The flight attendant asked the family for a medical certificate which they could not immediately produce but then showed them a copy. The attendant responded saying the certificate had to be shown to ground staff prior to boarding.

Ms Kumar, who was travelling with her husband and their 10-year-old twins, said they were asked to disembark and claimed that staff threatened to call the police if they refused.

On Wednesday, Ms Kumar tweeted about her experience to the airline saying: “Thanks @emirates for removing our family from your flight. Our son has epilepsy: we had told you, just come 14 hr from Melbourne, got his doctor on the phone & medical clearance while still on board. He has #autism & severe learning difficulties — v traumatic

“Once kicked off — your staff immediately agreed that he is fine to fly — as he has been with every flight with you @emirates. Now there is no flight home. Kids totally distraught and humiliated. Where is your humanity?”

Ms Kumar said she and her family continued to be poorly treated once in the airport and were eventually booked on another flight.

On Wednesday, the airline tweeted at Ms Kumar, saying: “Emirates are very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused to you and your family today. We want to assure you that our priority has been to find a solution for getting you to your destination. One of our colleagues has reached out to you with new travel arrangements.”

A spokesperson followed up with a statement saying the airline was “very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused to Ms Kumar and her family".

“Such situations are usually difficult for operational staff to assess, and they opted to act in the best interest of our passengers’ safety as well as on advice from our medical team,” they said.

“Our customer service team has been in touch with the family, and we have offered them a complimentary hotel stay while in transit and re-booked them on another flight departing on 26 July.”

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