“Do you have proof your son is disabled?”
Jack Johnson suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As his genetic disease worsens, the 10-year-old finds himself increasingly confined to his motorized scooter.
While returning from family vacation in Split, Croatia on Jet2, he ran into an issue at check-in. Jet2 requires at least 48 hours of notice to travel with a motorized scooter. Jack’s mother had called Jet2 reservations to notify them of Jack’s disability and the family had no trouble departing the UK. But the check-in agent in Split found no record of the request.
After consulting with colleagues, a Jet2 supervisor asked, “Do you have proof your son is disabled?” Jack began to cry and the family was mortified. The family did have paperwork, but it still took two hours to clear Jack to fly. By that time, his mother reports he was a basket case.
An Error, But Not A Malicious One
I can picture the check-in desk in Split, probably chronically understaffed to save money. There is a logistical hurdle to transporting a motorized scooter. Perhaps special equipment is necessary when departing from an outstation to load it onto the aircraft. And when the agent could not find any information on the event, what else could (s)he do than ask for additional details?
But the specific question…talk about tone deaf. This is an airport, not Disneyland. Why would a 10-year-old fake a disability? What kid wants to get to the front of the line to board a sardine can with no in-flight-entertainment?
On the other hand, even if Jet2 dropped the ball and did not properly record Jack’s issue, the issue was eventually resolved and Jack and his family flew home as planned.
Jet2 strikes a conciliatory tone in its statement on the issue:
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.
The airline has offered £300 credit and a special tour of the airport for Jack. His mother has declined the compensation, calling it insulting. She claims Jack has suffered depression and anxiety as a result of the incident.
While I cannot excuse Jet2 for such an insensitive question, I do give them credit for finding a solution and offering an unequivocal apology. As for Jack, I wish him all the best and offer this advice: life is too short to sweat people who unintentionally hurt you.
Finally, this story has me thinking about Moses Bacon on BBC’s Come Fly With Me.
image: Joining Jack