independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Ryanair apologises to tragic Dublin surgeon after charging him €188 to switch

Muhammad Taufiq Sattar switched flights after a house fire killed his wife and three children

RYANAIR has written to the grieving Dublin surgeon to apologise for charging him €188 to switch flights after he learned of the deaths of his family.

Mr Sattar attempted to switch from his normally scheduled flight on Saturday morning to an earlier one after learning of the house fire in England which claimed the lives of his wife and three children.

In an interview with a newspaper today, the respected neurosurgeon who works in Beaumont, Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Hermitage, said he explained the circumstances behind his change of flight.

Mr Sattar said he was fighting back tears as he explained his situation to an employee at the check-in desk last Friday morning.

However the airline charged him the full new ticket price, €188, to book the new flight.

“The staff were implementing our policy but I think you have to make exceptions in cases like that,” Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said this morning.

“And we clearly made an exception... once we became aware of it last night we immediately refunded to Dr Satter the money that we regret having taken from him in such tragic circumstances.”

When asked if the airline would apologise, Mr O’Leary said: “Of course”. 

“We’ve already written to him to apologise and to sympathise with him in the circumstances he found himself in last Friday,” he said.

Mr O’Leary was speaking after the airline’s AGM in which he said it was important that Ryanair project a ‘softer image’.

Muhammad Taufiq Sattar outside his local mosque in Leicester, speaking about the loss of his wife, daughter and teenage sons in a severe fire at their home
Muhammad Taufiq Sattar outside his local mosque in Leicester, speaking about the loss of his wife, daughter and teenage sons in a severe fire at their home

However, he said there would be no policy introduced on similar cases.

“We simply deal with them on a case by case basis,” he said.

“When you’re carrying 81m passengers across 120 airports you can’t run something on the basis that you’ll make an exception when there’s an exception

The doctor’s wife Shehnila (47), daughter Zainab (19) and sons Bilal (17) and Jamal (15) all perished in the blaze last Friday.

Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTE this morning, Mr Satter explained how he was meant to be in the house on the night of the fire, however had to stay in Dublin.

“God did not want that I should be in the house at that time, or I’d have been burnt as well. But God did not plan like that” he said.

He told of how his faith has helped him through the last week, saying he believes everyone returns to Allah eventually: “I read the words of the Koran, and these words of the Koran give you strength.

“It will give you so much peace and tranquillity in your heart, that we all belong to Allah. In the Muslim faith we call him Allah, but you can call him God or Jesus, and it is all the same man.

He explained he wasn’t angry with God for allowing evil to enter his life.

“We’re not allowed be angry with God.

 “My heart is broken, I’m allowed to cry, but I’m not going to complain. My son, he belongs to you and you’ve a right to take my son. But Allah will give something better in the future in that replacement.

The respected neurosurgeon also told of how when he got the call to break the tragic news to him he thought it was the hospital, as he was on call.

“I got a call at ten past three to tell me of the house on fire. It was shocking for me. I was on call, and I first thought it was a call from the hospital registrar for me.”

He also spoke of how he had spoken to his family over the phone just hours before their death, as he called his family home several times a day:

“Our last conversation was at 11.10, and I spoke to three of the children. Jamal was in bed, but he came out and spoke to me as well.”

“My last conversation with my wife was about there were so many things I needed to do on Saturday.”

“She was an excellent person. She was a caring mother and looked after the three children and brought up the three children in my absence.”

A teenager was last night charged with four counts of murder in relation to their deaths.

 

By John Mulligan and Brian O'Reilly

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