‘Humiliated’: Emirates passenger forced to choose between taking medical ventilator or luggage on flight

·2-min read
Ms Raheel has muscular dystrophy and requires an oxygen concentrator for when she gets out of breath  (Getty Images)
Ms Raheel has muscular dystrophy and requires an oxygen concentrator for when she gets out of breath (Getty Images)

Emirates airline has apologised to a disabled passenger after she had to abandon her luggage so she could carry life-saving oxygen equipment on a flight to Pakistan.

Amna Raheel, who has muscular dystrophy, was left feeling “humiliated” when she was told she would have to pay extra to take her oxygen concentrator on board a flight from Dubai to Karachi on 9 August.

Muscular dystrophy causes muscles to weaken over time gradually.

Ms Raheel also has a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The oxygen is necessary for when she gets out of breath, especially at altitude, and she regularly travels with the medical device.

Emirates has a policy allowing similar medical equipment to be taken on board if signed off by a medical practitioner in advance.

After she checked in her luggage at Dubai International Airport, Ms Raheel was told she would have to pay an excess baggage fee as the weight of her equipment exceeded her allowance.

She presented a medical letter from a doctor in Karachi, but the check-in staff still refused to accept the ventilator as an essential piece of equipment and insisted she would have to pay an excess baggage fee.

“I was told that I was overweight and my oxygen concentrator would be counted in my baggage allowance, which was highly absurd since I was carrying a medical certificate with me,” Ms Raheel shared on Twitter.

“That would mean that if a person with disability is carrying a life-saving equipment with them, they are not allowed to carry any other form of luggage, including essential items like clothes, shoes or toiletries.

“If a wheelchair for disabled passengers is free of baggage allowance, then lifesaving medical equipment should be too.

“I am a frequent traveller and I have never in my 31 years of travel life faced such humiliation by airport staff.”

The airline has since apologised to Ms Raheel.

“Emirates would like to offer our sincere apologies for the distress and inconvenience caused to Ms Raheel,” a spokesperson said.

“We pride ourselves on our customer service and were disappointed to learn that our policies relating to the carriage of portable oxygen devices were misinterpreted by check-in staff, coupled with behaviour that did not reflect our values and service standards.

“We take this feedback seriously and are taking the necessary steps to ensure that incidents such as this do not happen again.

“Our customer affairs team is currently in contact with Ms Raheel.”