Saturday, 18 August 2018

Ryanair offload 13 year old autistic girl for being unaccompanied whilst travelling with family

The low-fare-high-fee budget carrier Ryanair has been accused of heartlessly stranding an autistic 13-year-old in Portugal for hours for being an unaccompanied minor, despite travelling with her relations. 

The airline had allowed Daisy Maddock, 13, to fly out to Faro on 10th August with her aunties, uncles, cousins and godmother without any problems. The young teenager was supposed to her mother, Michelle Maddock, but the 32 year-old was unable to fly as she had suffered a bleed on her brain shortly before the trip to celebrate her mother's 60th birthday.

Michelle had contacted Ryanair to explain the situation and confirm that Daisy still wanted to go and the Irish airlines' staff said it was fine, the child needed a letter explaining the situation, with copies of both parents passports. Her aunts and uncles were travelling on the same flights, under different bookings. 

All was well going out to Portugal's Algarve, but the return proved to be a nightmare for the teenager on 17th August.  Daisy boarded the flight with the rest of my family with no issues at all until 10 minutes before the flight was due to take off.  Speaking to the Mail, Michelle Maddock said, "A lady working for Ryanair came up to my daughter and told her they believed she had gotten on the plane without an adult and she must get off the plane – but an adult had to go with her."

The distressed 13-year-old was made to leave the aircraft, despite showing the letter explaining the situation, as well as her relatives saying how they were travelling with her. Daisy left the aircraft with her 70-year-old godmother. 

A spokesperson for Ryanair explained, "Children under-16 years of age are not permitted to travel unaccompanied. In this instance, the child was booked on two separate bookings for the outbound and return flights. While we regret any inconvenience, as no other adult was travelling on the return booking, she could not travel on the flight. As a gesture of goodwill, the child and an accompanying adult were moved on to another booking on the next available flight, which departed to East Midlands later that day."

It was the same situation, on the outbound flight that had been unaffected, there were adults on the return flight with her, whilst not being on the same booking. Ryanair's spokesperson also notes that Daisy was accompanied by an adult, but still had to be offloaded so that they could be rebooked on the same booking reference.  

We spoke to James, a Ryanair passenger who often flies with his twin 14-year-old sons from the UK to France, yet as he pays for his flights, his wife pays for the children to fly and it is always under different booking references, yet they've had never had any trouble. "The boys have always been allowed to travel, there has never been an issue," James told us.