EasyJet apologises after teenager with Tourette’s told he wasn’t allowed to fly

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By Lisa James
27/01/2023
Home » EasyJet apologises after teenager with Tourette’s told he wasn’t allowed to fly

EasyJet has said sorry after one of its captains told a teenager with Tourette’s Syndrome he couldn’t board the aircraft in case he shouted out the word ‘bomb’ during the flight.

Josh Dooley was flying with his family from Liverpool to Amsterdam to celebrate his 18th birthday last Friday.

Despite being under no obligation to advise the airline her son had Tourette’s, Josh’s mum Joanne contacted easyJet two weeks before the flight to request special assistance and to tell them he had the condition, which causes a person to make involuntary sounds and movements called tics.

She said the special assistance team were ‘extremely helpful’ in ensuring the family had a relaxed experience checking in and reaching the plane.

However, as they were about to board, they were pulled aside by the captain and other staff and told they were not allowed to get on.

Yahoo News UK reports Mrs Dooley said: “We saw the captain and a couple of staff members with the lady from the gate coming from the plane. The captain asked if Josh had Tourette’s.

“I said yes. He said that he had been told that Josh could shout ‘bomb’ or ‘I’ve got a bomb’ and if so, we wouldn’t be able to board the plane as he may scare other passengers and he couldn’t have that on his plane as we were a security risk.”

She said Tourette’s condition can be exacerbated by anxiety, adding: “We had taken measures to create a calm experience but this backfired and actually created a situation that caused great anxiety for both him and his sister.

“We were finally allowed to board, but we were all left traumatised by the experience.”

On embarking, a fellow passenger asked her son: “Are you the reason we were delayed?” and a member of staff tried to move them from their pre-booked seats to the back of the plane.

She added: “To add insult to injury I was then brought a can of Coke by way of an ‘apology’ from the captain. We were all shaken by the episode and just wanted to get through the flight and get off the other end. A can of Coke really wasn’t what was needed.”

The charity Tourette’s Action called for easyJet to ‘educate’ staff to avoid similar incidents in future.

EasyJet said: “It is incredibly important to easyJet that our customers feel supported when they fly with us and we are very sorry that this was not the Dooley family’s experience.

“We have been in touch with them to apologise and understand more about their experience as we always want the highest levels of care to be shown to all our customers.

“We are also meeting with Tourettes Action to explore how we and our partners can apply any learnings.”

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