A disabled boy with severe anxiety taken ill as he boarded a flight was "moaned and muttered at" by passengers who "behaved like vultures"- and is so upset he may never fly again.
Cohen Dyer had to be medicated and curled up into a ball for hours on the easyJet flight to Gatwick from Gran Canaria, after customers complained about being delayed for 10 minutes when he was escorted onto the plane by special assistance.
Increasingly concerned by the commotion he thought he had caused, the 11-year-old stood hugging his mum Mandy Tanner with his hood up – "a sign things are unbearable and his little body is shutting down due to stress and fear", she said.
The schoolboy has severe anxiety, depression, autism and sensory processing disorder, and finds environments with lots of people a challenge.
It was their first family holiday, and the pair were joined for the seven-day trip by younger sister Blossom, two, Mandy’s mum and dad and her partner Shaun. They’d travelled outside of the school holidays to make it easier for Cohen.
In a furious open letter to those on board the 10.40am flight on Thursday, Mandy said they almost didn’t fly home due to the behaviour of those around them, but battled through the 18-hour journey home.
She wrote on Facebook : "To all of the "adults’ tutting huffing & puffing. To all of you who took the time to walk to the front of the line pointing, muttering & moaning, to see what was going on, to all of you who were very vocal in complaining to the staff.
"I would like to NOT apologise for the 10 minute hold up on your "fast boarding" que.
"However I would like to thank the staff of easy jet who ignored all of the abuse they received. For their care, patience & time took to look after my little boy who had taken poorly.
"My son wasn’t being violent, loud, rude, aggressive or naughty.
"He was becoming increasingly upset and anxious because of the commotion he felt he had caused."
The mum, 38, from Plymouth, explained her son has several disabilities, including severe anxiety and agoraphobia – the fear of situations that might cause panic or feelings of being trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
Mandy, a beauty therapist, continued: "We did have special assistance which may I add isn’t something you can just have. You have to go through the correct channels to get it and it often is the decision between weather or not we can actually fly that day at all.
"Yesterday due to all of you pointing, tutting and moaning we almost didn’t fly. Had the staff not responded as quickly and efficiently as they did we would NOT be at home right now.
"I can’t apologise enough to all the people who missed this flight because of us….. oh wait NO-ONE missed their flight!!!
"NO-ONE was put out for anymore than 10 minutes max.
"Then you all continued on your merry way & forgot about the boy who may never fly again."
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She explained how her son was so worried about what people had said, he curled into a ball for hours, had to be medicated and then escorted through the airport.
"You have no clue of the damage and effect you caused today," she said.
"I hope you all travelled home safely, oblivious to the destruction your sharp tongues caused.
"So my message is….to anyone who is ever in a queue and see a family being pushed through fast track please just take a minute to look a little closer before you jump to a huge negative opinion.
"Opinions effect lives.. If you can’t understand that’s fine, Don’t be that person that is responsible for effecting the life of a child in a negative detrimental way."
Responding to her post, Kyle Russell said "the British public can be animals when involves getting on a plane".
Carly Marie said: "Oh bless you! Horrible to read how cruel some people were to you and your little boy. I’m glad the crew and staff helped you to get home safely. Xx"
Carly Williams said: "Hope your little boy is okay and credit to easyJet for helping. Saw something similar myself last week crew had dealt with a passenger taken poorly on the previous flight was explained to us on the next flight that’s why we where held up getting on the plane the manager and captain apologised several times and still got a lot of abuse from the people travelling – don’t know what’s wrong with the public these days no consideration at all xx"
The upset mum, responding to the comments, added: "We’re all so quick to complain about the youth of today and how they are the snow flake generation yet it was all adults who caused such an upset.
"My son would never have dared to react to someone else’s misfortune and treat others as he was treated, simply because I am raising him to be polite and respectful to others especially his elders.
"I do wonder if I should become a parent without these old fashioned morals. Sad really."
She continued: "Had I been asked or even approached I would have happily explained but the way many acted was awful and intimidating as an adult let alone a child. Maybe staff should have explained I don’t know what was said once we were taken to a room out of the way.
"When we got on to the plane the whispering started again although not as bad but the people looking at us in disgust was enough to upset me.
"Thankfully my son was medicated by then and wasn’t as really aware of them. Sadly he wouldn’t have needed the medicine on the first place had they not behaved like vultures."
In another comment, she said: "Was an extremely hard 18 hour journey home after the experience but yes all safe n sound now."
easyJet has been approached for comment.
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