An airline has been ordered to pay more than €8,000 in compensation to a young disabled boy who was told he could not travel on a once in a lifetime dream trip to Orlando, Florida because the oxygen machine he needs to keep him alive was not approved for use in the airline’s Business Class cabin.
Rian Stack and his family from Cork, Ireland had their travel plans left in tatters after Aer Lingus said it wouldn’t be possible for Rian to use his portable oxygen concentrator despite initially saying approved POC’s were allowed onboard.
In the end, Rian’s family managed to book tickets with KLM and Delta Air Lines who allowed the POC onboard without any issues. The family then pursued legal action against Aer Lingus which has now been ordered to pay €8,250 ($9,807) plus court courts after a two-year battle.
Rian suffers from a serious neuromuscular condition called myotubular myopathy, as well as a respiratory condition and scoliosis.
Ireland’s Share A Dream Foundation was making it possible for Rian to embark on his dream trip to Florida by providing Business Class flights, along with funding for a nurse to accompany Rian. The Business Class seats were necessary as Rian’s conditions mean he needs to lie flat for periods of time.
Aer Lingus initially confirmed a booking for Rian and his family in January 2019 for travel in October 2019 and the Aer Lingus website said approved POC’s were allowed onboard.
But by August 2019, the airline said Rian’s POC wasn’t approved for use in its Business Class cabin because it couldn’t be secured and if Rian wanted to fly with Aer Lingus he would have to sit in Economy Class.
“Rian’s parents feared the entire trip would be placed in jeopardy and as a result, they contacted KLM/Delta Airlines who were in a position to accommodate Rian using the POC in business class with no difficulty.
“The events caused significant stress, inconvenience and financial loss and expense as a result of the acts of the respondent,” the family’s lawyer, Amy Connolly told Cork District Court.
“The events caused significant stress, inconvenience and financial loss and expense as a result of the acts of the respondent.”
Commenting on the case, Rian father said the case had been brought because Aer Lingus failed to provide fair access for disabled people. Judge Joanne Carroll who presided over the case said she expected Aer Lingus to learn from the case.
Aer Lingus said it would not comment on the matter.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.