Airlines urged to be lenient to kids with special needs

DUBAI - Parents of two children with special needs have called for support and consideration from airport officials when special needs children are travelling, after the staff of an airline refused to let the family check-in the baggage on behalf of their young daughters.

By Preeti Kannan And Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporters)

Published: Tue 8 Jul 2008, 1:35 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:06 PM

The Sri Lankan couple were travelling from Dubai to Colombo on Saturday with their twin daughters who suffer from cerebral palsy. Despite the Parera family's requests to exempt the children's presence while checking in their baggage, they said Emirates officials insisted the 21-year-olds, Dilini and Dinali, personally check in their baggage.

The airline, however, has now started an inquiry into the incident. The family said they made a phone call to the airline's office the previous day to check if it was necessary for the children to be present at the check-in counter. The parents were told they could check in the baggage on behalf of the girls. "However, when we reached the airport on Saturday morning, the check-in counter staff declined to accept their baggage. We also met the supervisor and explained the girls' condition. But the supervisor too politely declined and asked us to bring the girls to the counter," said Sandhya Parera.

She said, "It was very difficult to bring them to the airport as they were not prepared and got very scared. It is very important that they remain calm. Otherwise, they sometimes get seizures. We rushed back home and brought them to the airport. We went home again and returned to board the flight later in the evening."

While Emirates allows early check-in, its security policies require all passengers to be present during check-in. An Emirates official said, "To ensure Emirates' passengers with special needs have a hassle-free experience, we offer a whole host of special assistance, including wheelchair assistance and escort service by dedicated Emirates Airport Services staff who complete all formalities right from check-in through to the aircraft prior to departure. Similar services are given during their arrival at the destination also."

The airline said it had begun an inquiry into the specific incident and would contact the Parera family shortly.

More news from