AN AUTISTIC boy flying home from a holiday in Spain was left ‘petrified’ after being forced to take a COVID test upon boarding a Ryanair flight.
Ryanair has been forced to apologise after making Callum Hollingsworth, 12, take the test – despite having proof that he is medically exempt.
The airline said it ‘regrets’ the ‘stress’ caused to young Callum when he tried to board a plane from Valencia.
Callum, from Harlow, Essex, had been enjoying a holiday with his family, who said their son considered Valencia his ‘happy place’.
Mum Katy said that she had told Callum – who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – he would have to take one COVID test in order for them to board the flight to Spain, the BBC reports.
He agreed to it, but it took them two whole months to prepare him for the uncomfortable swab, while a previous one in January had been a ‘nightmare’.
So when he was suddenly told he had to undergo yet another test in order to get home to the UK on August 3, worried mum Katy said her son ‘lost it’ and had a ‘meltdown’.
“They said if you don’t have a Covid test you can’t go home, so we had no choice,” said Ms Hollingsworth.
“He started hitting the chair and then started hitting himself.”
She added that she had tried to tell Ryanair staff that her son was exempt, but despite showing them proof, her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Ryanair staff refused to recognise the exemption, which the family had applied for in January because of how much her son struggled with tests.
“The staff were just ignoring us. All they kept saying was ‘it’s not our problem’,” she said.
Under government guidelines, people are exempt if they have a medical condition which means they cannot take a test.
Those who are exempt must present a note from a medical practitioner at check in and to Border Force Staff on arrival in England, the government’s website adds.
Ryanair said in a statement it ‘regrets to hear of the stress’ caused to the family.
The full statement reads: “Ryanair regrets to hear of the stress caused to Ms Hollingsworth and her family.
“Ryanair fully complies with EU & Govt travel restrictions, which are constantly changing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We continue to make improvements and implement procedures to ensure the health and safety of our passengers and our crew is prioritised while complying with each country’s government guidelines at all times.
“Ryanair apologises for any inconvenience caused to Ms Hollingsworth and her family.”