'Very traumatic': Mom slams airline for kicking her teen son with epilepsy and autism off its flight

The mother of a disabled teenager who was kicked off a flight home to Europe has slammed Emirates for its “inhumane discrimination” against her family.

Eli, who has epilepsy, autism, and severe learning difficulties, was returning home to France with his family after flying all over the world and spending a year with relatives in New Zealand.

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The teen’s father, New Zealand-born Adam Brown, took his wife and three sons to Auckland a year ago to become acquainted with his relatives.

Eli, a teenager who has epilepsy, autism, and severe learning difficulties, was kicked off an Emirates plane in Dubai. (Photo: Isabelle Kumar via Twitter)
Eli, a teenager who has epilepsy, autism, and severe learning difficulties, was kicked off an Emirates plane in Dubai. (Photo: Isabelle Kumar via Twitter)

The family was on the last leg of their trip home on Wednesday night and waiting to take off on a flight from Dubai to Lyon, France, when Eli was removed from the plane.

His mother, Euronews reporter Isabelle Kumar, said the family had already flown 14 hours from Melbourne without issue before Eli was removed from his seat in Dubai because of his epilepsy, despite having medical clearance to fly.

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


She also tweeted that her children were “totally distraught and humiliated” by the incident.

“Where is your humanity?” she asked Emirates.

The family’s travel experience ended on a sour note with their treatment on the Emirates flight, Eli’s uncle, Miles Brown, told the New Zealand Herald.

“They said Eli wasn’t allowed on the plane, despite already taking two Emirates flights from New Zealand without a problem, despite his doctor on the phone saying he was fine, and an email and medical certificate saying the same,” said Miles Brown, who had been in contact with his brother.

“They kicked them off with such gusto, even threatened to get police to remove them,” he said.

Kumar, meanwhile, shared her dissatisfaction with the airline in a series of tweets explaining that the family had been removed without a resolution for getting them home.


An Emirates spokesperson told Euronews it was “very sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused to Ms. Kumar and her family.”

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

“Our customer service team has been in touch with the family, and we have offered them a complimentary hotel stay while in transit and rebooked them on another flight departing on July 26.”

Following international news of Eli’s treatment, his mother shared follow-up tweets, reporting that the family had been placed on another Emirates flight home.




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