'Humiliating for our son': Airline asked 10-year-old boy in motorized scooter for proof of his disability

A Jet2 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the John Paul II International Airport in Krakow, Poland. (Photo: John Guillemin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A 10-year-old boy was humiliated and distressed after a Jet2 airline employee asked for proof of his disability before he flew home from vacation.

Jack Johnson has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is one of the most common fatal genetic disorders that affect children. Symptoms start to appear in male children before the age of 5. Most children with the disorder use a wheelchair by age 12.

Jack was traveling home with his parents — his mom, Alex, and his dad, Andy, who is a Wigan Warriors, London Broncos, Castleford Tigers, and Salford City Reds rugby league player — at the Split Airport in Croatia on July 31 when the incident occurred.

On the outbound flight, the family had no issues. But the staff at Split airport did not have Jack’s disability on record. According to the Jet2’s website, to have a motorized scooter loaded onto an aircraft, the airline needs two days’ notice.

According to a blog post written by Jack’s mother, the airline attendant asked, “Do you have proof your son is disabled?”

Alex showed Jack’s proof to the attendant and, after two hours, the family was allowed to board the plane. However, the experience left Jack humiliated.

“Jack doesn’t like any fuss or made to feel different,” Alex told the BBC. “He was so embarrassed.”

The U.K. mom shared in her post that Jack had a “meltdown” the day after the flight. She wrote, “I have had to pick him up from his Grandma’s house as he has had a complete meltdown. He has told his cousins he hates them all, he hates his life, he’s sick of being different and he wants to die. Everyone was heartbroken, his grandparents and cousins were in tears hearing him talk like this. I am linking this to yesterday and how he was made to feel different.”

A spokesperson from Jet2 said in a statement to the Independent: “We are extremely sorry to hear of this experience, and we appreciate that it has been very distressing for Jack and his family.

“We have been in contact to unreservedly [apologize] for the upset caused, and we would like to reassure Jack, his family, and all our customers, that this is not our normal standard of service.

“Although this is an isolated incident, we have [learned] a number of lessons and we are urgently reviewing all our procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.”

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