Thursday 21 November 2019

Family of organ transplant child unable to fly because handling agent 'did not explain urgency of matter' - Ryanair

Airline apologises to family and 'regret' handling of situation

Ryanair aircraft.
Ryanair aircraft.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The family of a sick child was unable to fly to an emergency organ transplant operation because a Ryanair ticket handling agent failed to mention the urgency of the matter to the airline's head office, it has emerged.

Ryanair has since apologised to the family of the sick child after it was unable to fly them from Gran Canaria to Madrid for the liver and kidney transplant operation.

In an initial statement, the airline said it was unable to fly the boy and his family, who are from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, to Madrid for the vital operation because the family arrived at the airport 'too close the departure time'.

It has since emerged that the family arrived at the airport 65 minutes prior to the departure of the flight to Madrid, but had not made a booking or contact with the airline before arriving at the airport.

The family's rush to catch a plane began after they were told a liver and kidney donor had been found earlier that day.

The family was phoned last Saturday by La Paz hospital in Madrid to say that the crucial surgery could take place immediately. They then went to the airport and tried to book seats on the first available flight – Ryanair, RYR2012, departing at 4.50pm.

However, after a consultation involving calls to Ryanair’s head office, the family were told that they would not be allowed to board the flight, which left for the Spanish capital without them.

In an updated statement issued to Independent.ie, Ryanair said the family had a booking with Iberia and wished to transfer to the Ryanair flight as it left earlier.

However, they could not buy Spanish domestic tickets at the airport with the airline and, on calling Ryanair's Dublin head office, the handling agent failed to mention the passengers' urgency.

"This family arrived at the ticket desk in Las Palmas Airport just 65 minutes prior to the scheduled departure of this flight to Madrid," Ryanair said.

"They had not made a booking or contact with Ryanair prior to arriving at the airport.

"Our handling agent in Las Palmas explained that Ryanair does not sell Spanish domestic tickets at Spanish airports (they are only sold online) but then contacted our Dublin head office (45 minutes before scheduled departure), but did not explain that the passengers were travelling for an organ transplant or the urgency of the matter."

Ryanair said it 'sincerely regrets [the] handling agent did not deal with this family in a more sympathetic and urgent manner'.

"We have spoken to them to ensure it does not recur," the airline said.

"Separately, we have contacted this family to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and we wish them every success with this transplant procedure." 

Meanwhile, the only later flight available was on a different airline, and the family later boarded an Air Europa plane instead, which flew them to Madrid 70 minutes later.

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