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Ryanair Demanded Carry-On Fee for Autistic Child’s Comfort Doll

Ryanair Demanded Carry-On Fee for Autistic Child’s Comfort Doll
Jeff Edwards

Ryanair is denying a mother’s claim that airline workers refused to allow her severely autistic child to board his flight home without first paying a more than thirty-dollar-fee for hand luggage for his beloved toy doll. The family says that the disabled passenger required medical intervention after the carrier mistreated her child and eventually even called the police.

The mother of a 15-year-old who has serious limitations due to autism claims that casual cruelty by Ryanair staff led to her child having a “meltdown” that resulted in the vulnerable flyer being stranded in Spain after police were called. She says the incident left her son requiring urgent medical intervention. Rosemary Estella claims that the whole shameful affair kicked off when the airline’s agents insisted the disabled passenger pay a fee for the comfort doll he carries with him at all times. Despite the fact that the doll in question appears to be only about the size of a newborn, agents are said to have remained firm that the doll was a carry-on item and was subject to a £25 ($34 USD) add-on-fee.

“My poor Leo is at Alicante airport and they wanted to charge to take his doll on board,” upset mom, Estella wrote in a now-viral social media post. “He has had a huge autistic meltdown and they have brought 5 police to him and refused to let him on the flight! He is now petrified and stuck in Alicante. Shame on you Ryanair you are a disgrace!! His carer requested special assistance but Ryanair declined it because he can walk!!! NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE YOU UTTER IDIOTS!!!! utter disgrace.”

Estella said that airline employees compounded the problem they created by escalating the situation and eventually calling law enforcement. She says her child had to be medicated by doctors after his traumatic airport experience.

Ryanair officials reject Estella’s claim outright, saying that it was airport officials and not Ryanair who made the decision to call the police. The airline also appears to have taken rather unnecessary pains to point out that the disabled passenger (who is said to function at the level of a three-year-old) is in fact in his early teens.

“At passport control, the teenager became agitated and aggressive towards his carer and the carer took the decision not to travel,” a Ryanair spokesperson told the Daily Mail.  “The passengers were then taken to the airport medical assistance team where the upset passenger received sedation. As these two passengers never arrived at the Ryanair Boarding gate, their luggage was offloaded at the request of Alicante passport control staff, who advised Ryanair’s gate agents that they had decided not to travel. These two passengers did not arrive at the boarding gate, and therefore, they were not ‘denied boarding’ and neither were they charged for any hand luggage.”

Though the family was required to spend thousands on unexpected additional expenses for a last minute return flight home to Doncaster, England, the story has something of a happy ending after all. Estella later posted photographs of smiling Jet2 flight attendants greeting the now famous flyer and taking time to sit down beside the disabled passenger to welcome his doll to the flight.

[Image Source: Facebook/ Helen Estrella]

View Comments (10)


  1. CosmosHuman

    May 2, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    I always thought European airlines cared more about assisting people living with disabilities that other airlines. Boy, I thought wrong.

  2. Bowgie

    May 2, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    If one has special needs, then Ryanair is not your airline. Personally, I wound not fly them if you paid me. With all the bad history of Ryanair, a person has expecting anything extra, like a sense of humanity from Ryanair, has noodles for brains.

  3. jjmoore

    May 2, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Fly RyanAir… get what you pay for… Nothing.

  4. MileHighFizz

    May 3, 2019 at 3:05 am

    Ryanair take pride in being horrible to their customers on the basis of “we are cheep, and you’ll fly with us purely on that basis” their CEO Michael O’Leary loves courting controversy as it gets him loads of free press. Ryanair is not typical of European airlines and had this lady been flying BA, Iberia, EasyJet, Norwegian or pretty much any other airline this is unlikely to have happened. But hey once again some free press for Ryanair, Mr O’Leary won’t be sorry I’m sure!

  5. fairhsa

    May 3, 2019 at 4:04 am

    Given that from that I understand, autistic people hate change and disruption (ie the very definition of a holiday) perhaps families might be better to avoid putting their children through things like this in the first place. It’s not like airlines are at all good at managing “out of the ordinary” situations.

  6. SMHarman

    May 3, 2019 at 4:06 am

    Cosmoshuman. There are European airlines and then there is RyanAir. The Sprit / Frontier / MaxJet of Eurooe

  7. Kataskopos

    May 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

    I am not sure I would classify Ryanair as an airline. Most certainly I would not send my child, autistic or not, with this cattle conveyor outfit.

  8. RandyN

    May 4, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Allegedly. I don’t believe any claim in a social media post until it’s verified.

  9. LookingForRewards

    May 4, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Add WOW Airline to the Ryan list. They charge for small item carry-ons and their planes are dirty.

  10. brumbrum


    May 8, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    LFR: wow air is not charging anything. Not operating.

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