In Depth

Disabled 10-year-old boy asked to ‘prove’ disability by Jet2

The mother of Jack Johnson said he was left distressed after they were asked for evidence of his Duchenne muscular dystrophy

A ten-year-old  boy was asked to prove he had a disability by UK airline Jet2 before he was allowed to board a flight.

Jack Johnson, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was travelling back from Croatia with his mother, Alex Johnson at the time.

She told the BBC the family was “appalled” by the way her son was treated at Split Airport in Croatia on Tuesday 31 July.

“When we arrived at Split airport and attempted to check in, we were told by a clearly stressed check-in desk operative that they had no records of Jack, his disability or his requirements”, she said

“The operative then informed us that two days' notice is required to be able to put a motorised wheelchair/scooter on the aircraft and that we might not be able to fly.”

“By this time the packed departures area was getting busier and people were getting frustrated with waiting. We felt as though we were a huge burden.”

Johnson said she was then asked in front of her son: “Do you have proof your son is disabled?”

In a blog post, according to Sky News, she explained: “I didn't know whether to be sarcastic and say no he loves to ride a disability scooter and pretends to be disabled for fun, or to cry and shout he has a bloody terminal muscle-wasting condition.”

“The only reason I kept my cool was that I could see the embarrassment and anxiety rising in Jack. The indignity of the situation was awful.”

Johnson said she had to explain the full extent of Jack's condition in front of him, before showing the operative his blue badge, adding her son “wanted the ground to eat him up”.

Jack is the son of former Wigan Warriers rugby league player, Andy Johnson. While the family said they had made “great memories” on their trip, the experience at Split Airport “ruined” this for them.

A spokesperson for Jet2 told The Independent: “We are extremely sorry to hear of this experience, and we appreciate that it has been very distressing for Jack and his family.

“We have been in contact to unreservedly apologise for the upset caused, and we would like to reassure Jack, his family, and all our customers, that this is not our normal standard of service.

“Although this is an isolated incident, we have learnt a number of lessons and we are urgently reviewing all our procedures to ensure that this does not happen again.”

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