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Mom Calls Out Airline For "Traumatic" Treatment Of Her Disabled Son

A mother-of-three is seeking an explanation after her family was kicked off their flight.

The most infuriating detail of the story for journalist Isabelle Kumar is that her son Eli's epilepsy was the reason for the upsetting incident.

She says her son was put through "inhumane discrimination" because of his disability.

A Long, Long Flight

Kumar and her family - her three sons and her husband - were flying to France after visiting family in New Zealand.

Her son Eli has autism, epilepsy, and severe learning difficulties, but Kumar says that has never been a problem for an airline.

Kumar even says she and her husband are careful to bring along a doctor's certificate approving Eli to fly, along with medication for his seizures.

In fact, Eli had flown on multiple flights with Emirates problem-free before this week's incident in Dubai.

Isabelle Kumar
Kumar says Eli's disability has never caused a problem on a flight.Isabelle Kumar

After flying 14 hours from New Zealand to the stopover in the United Arab Emirates, Kumar asked if her son could have a seat next to an empty chair - in case he had a seizure mid-flight.

For some reason this presented a huge problem for the flight crew.

"We told Emirates every step of the way that Eli had epilepsy (and autism)," Kumar told Euronews.

"But when we asked for a seat with a vacant seat next to it, in case he had a seizure, they suddenly wanted to see the medical certificate."

And even though Kumar had a medical certificate, it didn't keep Eli from being thrown off the flight.

"They kicked them off with such gusto, even threatened to get police to remove them."

Isabelle Kumar
Isabelle Kumar - Twitter

The Emirates flight crew told Kumar she needed to have Eli seen by the airline's medical crew off the plane.

Even though Kumar managed to reach Eli's doctor in France on her cell phone, that wasn't good enough.

"They kicked them off with such gusto," Eli's uncle Miles Brown told The New Zealand Herald. "Even threatened to get police to remove them."

So the family got off the plane, and of course the medical crew quickly approved Eli to fly - again - but they were not allowed back on the plane.

Isabelle Kumar
Isabelle Kumar - Twitter

Instead, the family spent eight hours waiting at the airport (with no food or water provided) before Emirates finally arranged a hotel room for them.

"It was the lack of humanity that we found really shocking," Kumar said.

"The staff were faced with a kid with severe disabilities but they threatened to call the police if we didn't get off, even though our bags were still on the plane."

Emirates eventually placed the family on another flight, offering to pay for their hotel stay and the $678 bus tickets they bought to reach their connecting flight.

"We never give up and this won’t stop us travelling as a family."

Isabelle Kumar
Isabelle Kumar - Twitter

In an apology, Emirates said they were "very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused to Ms. Kumar and her family."

"Such situations are usually difficult for operational staff to assess," they said, "and they opted to act in the best interest of our passengers’ safety as well as on advice from our medical team."

While Kumar shared a celebratory photo of her family on their rescheduled flight home ("We are off!") she had harsh words for the airline's treatment of Eli.

Isabelle Kumar
Isabelle Kumar - Twitter

"We have to really prep him for flights and this has just thrown him. He can't figure out what's going on," she said.

She added that the airline showed "no consideration for our son or the stress they were inflicting on him or us."

"You face endless challenges having a kid with disabilities and being treated with respect would help," Kumar told Euronews, "but we never give up and this won’t stop us travelling as a family. I will think twice before travelling with Emirates though."

Here are more stories about parenting and disabilities that might interest you:

[H/T: Yahoo, Euronews, NZ Herald]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com