A family was left abroad for two days after a travel firm told them the son who has severe autism was “unfit to fly”.
Arshad Sherbaz and Selina Begum – parents of 11-year-old Mustafah – were told by Thomas Cook that they could not board the return flight home from Turkey in July, the Birmingham Mail reports.
The family, including daughter Meelam, 19, say they were told at Dalaman Airport after they had already checked in that they needed a “fit to fly” certificate from a doctor to allow Mustafah to return home to Birmingham.
Best airports for a layover
Best airports for a layover
1/9 Singapore Changi Airport
Banish the travel stress by strolling through one of the five airport gardens, taking in the 27-foot waterfall and Koi carp pond. The building itself is flooded with natural light. It’s all very calming, and not like an airport at all. The four-storey tall slide is sure to delight and amuse the children, and you’d be forgiven for wondering if they actually want you to leave at all. Stopover highlight: The Butterfly Garden in Terminal 3 with over 1,000 live butterflies
2/9 Munich Airport
Munich Airport is great for German culture and aeroplanes. Who’d have thought it? Munich’s outdoor Viewing Hall gives you the perfect vantage point to enjoy watching the other planes take off. Historic aircraft on display outside will keep true aviation enthusiasts happy. Plus, if you’re stranded at Christmas, you’ll be able to peruse the traditional market, complete with spiced wine, bratwursts and an ice rink. Stopover highlight: A Bavarian tavern complete with beer garden and on-site brewery
3/9 Incheon International Airport, Seoul
Incheon Airport offers you a complete Korean experience. The building contains a museum and often features classical concerts. You can get hands-on with traditional Korean handicrafts, and also try on some traditional costumes. There’s a 24 hour casino, too, in case you want to try and win back all that money you spent on duty-free. Stopover highlight: An 18-hole golf course and driving range
4/9 San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport is all about feeding the body and the mind. The yoga room offers a chance to stretch away the stress of a delayed flight. The onsite cafes and restaurants offer healthy Californian fare to complete your nourished soul, including local wines and organic dishes. A museum centred on the history of aviation – and of the airport itself – and 40 individual rotating cultural, historical and artistic exhibits dotted around the airport will further stimulate the mind. Stopover highlight: The first airport to have a dedicated yoga room
5/9 Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong’s futuristic airport boasts an array of entertainment. If IMAX isn’t your thing, how about playing 9 holes of golf on an island in the middle of an artificial lake? This one is a brilliant place for families to be stuck at, as the Dream Come True Education Park will keep children occupied for hours. This interactive play centre offers the chance to dress up and role-play different professions. Stopover highlight: The largest IMAX cinema in Hong Kong, showing 2D and 3D movies
6/9 Zurich Airport
If you want to feel close to nature, an airport is probably the last place you would think to go. Zurich Airport, however, is surrounded by a nature reserve, with 12 miles of footpaths. It even has its own park ranger, and you can hire bikes and inline skates so you don’t have to be stuck in the terminal. Even when you are inside, you won’t feel like it, as the sound of the Alps – complete with mooing cows – is played throughout the airport. Stopover highlight: Natural ambience
7/9 Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
You don’t often find Rembrandt or the other Dutch masters in an airport. Their paintings sit alongside contemporary offerings in the museum, and the library contains works by Dutch authors, translated into 27 different languages. If looking at art and reading books gets you worked up, unwind again in the meditation room. If you get stranded for a very long time, you could make use of the airport’s own wedding planner and have a ceremony at one of several aviation-themed locations. Stopover highlight: An extension of the Rijksmuseum housing paintings by Dutch masters
8/9 Vancouver International Airport
The 30,000 gallon aquarium you’ll find in Vancouver IA, stocked with sea creatures native to the Pacific North West will keep you mesmerised for hours. You can also get married here if you really want to, although we don’t recommend it as a way to pass the time. Perhaps another look around the native art displays first? Keep the kids quiet in summer with a trip to the Take-Off Fridays circus, complete with local musicians, acrobats, live DJs and face painting. Stopover highlight: The unique maritime vibe, complete with aquarium
9/9 Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport is as extravagant as you would imagine. Duty free covers 58,000 square feet, and you can enter one of the famous raffles to win a sports car or a million dollars. If that’s not over-the-top enough, you can even buy gold bars in the airport, which is probably what you thought WHSmiths in Heathrow has always lacked. For those with less of a materialistic bent, there’s a Zen garden where lush ferns and mist machines will help to relax and refresh. Stopover highlight: Luxury. Just luxury.
They stayed in Turkey for two more days to receive a medical certificate and anti-anxiety medication after spending £2,300 for the holiday. Thomas Cook have since apologised for any confusion and offered £750 in compensation vouchers.
After being billed for accommodation, taxis and ambulance transport to the hospital, the airport did not even ask to see the certificate, the family said.
Mr Sherbaz told the Birmingham Mail: “Someone from Thomas Cook told us that they had spoken to the pilot who had refused to let my son on the plane to fly home. They said Arshad was a safety risk and was not fit to fly.
“We couldn’t understand. I had notified Thomas Cook before the holiday about my son’s disability.
“The only thing I could think of was that he had a small tantrum on the flight on the way out.”
Mustafah – who communicates in sign language – had become stressed after a long day of travelling during the outbound journey as they had missed the previous flight from Gatwick.
He banged on the door of the plane toilet before being comforted by his father after boarding another flight from Birmingham.
His parents claim that they had never been treated in this way before during trips to Morocco, Spain, Italy and the US with Mustafah.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook had said: “We take the welfare and safety of all of our customers very seriously and we can confirm we are in contact with the Sherbaz family regarding their journey home from Turkey in June 2014.
“Prior to their return flight, the company we use for medical assistance advised that Mr & Mrs Sherbaz’s son would need to be seen by a doctor before flying home to ensure he was well enough for the flight.
“Our crew explained this to the family and we ensured they were able to travel to the hospital. They returned to the UK on our flight the next day at no cost and we also ensured they had support and welfare at the airport.
“Our customer services team are now liaising directly with the family to ensure they are compensated for the additional expenses they incurred and we’d like to apologise for any confusion caused during their holiday. At all times, our concern was for the health of Master Sherbaz.”Reuse content