‘Do you have proof your son is disabled?’
As a family we need and love our holidays because of the underlying heartbreak we live with every day as we watch our son’s muscles waste away. Eventually it will be impossible for us to take Jack on holiday and make the precious memories we cherish with him.
Incompetence and error at Jet 2 holidays has ruined our holiday.
Here are extracts from the emails I have sent to the CEO Steve Heapy and Chris Flannigan the General Service Manager.
‘I can honestly say we have never experienced anything as shambolic and as humiliating for our son as our flight home from Split with Jet 2.
From what I can see on your website we did everything that we should have done to prepare you and inform you about our son being on the flight. I called Jet 2’s disabled assistance line as soon as we booked and spent a long time explaining about Jack’s condition and giving all the details of the disability scooter he uses. I even double checked you had all the information. I didn’t want us to run into any problems as Jack hates people staring and attention being drawn to him. It’s hard for him being a kid that is different. We followed the procedures on our part.
When we arrived at Split airport and attempted to check in, we were told by a clearly stressed check in desk operative that they had no records of Jack, his disability or his requirements. The operative then informed us that two days’ notice is required to be able to put a motorized wheelchair/scooter on the aircraft and that we might not be able to fly. The operative was talking to her colleagues in Croatian and was clearly not happy. By this time the packed departures area was getting busier and people were getting frustrated with waiting. We felt as though we were a huge burden.
The operative then asks ‘Do you have proof your son is disabled?’
I didn’t know whether to be sarcastic and say no he loves to ride a disability scooter and pretends to be disabled for fun, or to cry and shout he has a bloody terminal muscle-wasting condition.
The only reason I kept my cool was that I could see the embarrassment and anxiety rising in Jack. The indignity of the situation was awful. He was crying and saying I just want to go home to my Grandma’s. Even the couple behind us said they couldn’t believe we had been asked that.
We painfully have to talk about the full extent of Jack’s condition in front of him. The highlight is me having to show the check in operative his blue disabled badge to prove he is disabled. In the UK I am sure there would be disciplinary action for asking that question and in the US, Jack’s human rights would have been breached. The poor kid wanted the ground to eat him up.
My husband then leaves us to find the Jet 2 rep who also has no details about us. She was clearly mortified at my family’s distress and what we were going through. She was immediately on the phone and then had to admit that Jet 2 had not sent any paperwork.
We spent almost two hours between the check in desk and the disabled waiting area, where many of the passengers who had been enjoying several alcoholic drinks had conveniently fallen asleep. We did not get to sit down as there was no space or air conditioning. My husband and my younger son, who is six had to find wheelchairs to sit in. Tempers are frayed.
I tweeted you out of frustration as I want you to see the distress you were causing, and our lovely friend Anthony Cotton stepped in to try to help. If he had not stepped in, I wonder if you would you have reacted in the same way?
Your staff at the airport were completely clueless on how to handle Jack and his disability scooter.
It was a complete farce with my family being stopped every two minutes and being told we could go no further. The rep had to be called for again when we were told we couldn’t go through security.
As a mother my job is to protect and nurture my child. Yesterday I had to stand by and watch as he was completely humiliated. You have left him demoralized. You are definitely not the ‘package holiday company you can trust’.
I begrudgingly have had to spend a great deal of money on the flight home in treats in a bid to put a smile back on my son’s face. I can honestly say I am fuming.
I would like to know what disability and inclusion training you give to your staff and the people who are representing you. What materials are used? And who delivers the training? You clearly have a lot of work to do in this area. I am thinking about publishing a blog or doing an interview about what happened because I think you and other airlines need to realize the impact situations like these have on vulnerable people living with disabilities.
I think you need to clearly understand that you have turned what should have been a lovely holiday with lasting memories, into a humiliating experience for my son. Sadly, that is what it will be remembered for.’
I then provided the below update to Chris and Steve about how Jack was feeling the day after.
‘I wanted to reach out to you as I feel you should be aware of what has happened today with Jack. 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.’
Lessons must be learnt from this and I do think Steve Heapy and Jet 2 holidays should hang their heads in shame. I will relish the opportunity to come in and talk to you about where you are going wrong.
I had held off publishing this letter about how Jack was inhumanely treated at Split airport after Jet 2 holidays failed him on an epic scale. Jet 2 have accepted full responsibility for what happened to him, it was their error and they have apologized but I feel completely insulted by the compensation offered - a voucher of £250 later increased to £300 off our next family holiday with them and a tour around the airport for Jack so they can show him how he should have been treated. Moving from £250 to £300 shows how they were trying to get away with paying us as little as possible and how they do not understand the damage they have caused. I guess it’s about profit margins for them – the damage cannot be measured in monetary terms.
I I don't want the money. feel on principle I would rather let everyone know what happened to Jack and how he has been left feeling humiliated and demoralised by the incident. I want lessons to be learnt from the way he was treated so it never happens to anyone again.
Steve has yet to respond to me directly as he is away enjoying his holiday but says he will send Jack a letter of apology on his return. I have been informed he is happy with the compensation being offered. I wonder if he is left feeling humiliated on his holiday?