A Dunedin woman with Tourette syndrome has been humiliated after being told she was not allowed to board an Air New Zealand flight.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Jade O’Connell, 19, was due to fly from Dunedin to Wellington on Monday to attend Camp Twitch, a camp for those with Tourette.
After he arrived at Dunedin airport with his mother on Monday morning, the couple was told that Jade could not fly due to problems with him on the previous flight.
She missed the first day of camp.
Jade’s family and friends have expressed outrage that the incident was humiliating and disappointing.
“It simply came to our notice then. We don’t have to do anything before that, “said Mother Teresa O’Connell.
“It felt like it was about her Tourette. This team didn’t want to deal with her.”
But Air New Zealand says the issue is a medical one and that it made the decision with its safety in mind.
Jade was in Auckland on Sunday and returned on a plane that night.
His mother said Jade suffered a minor panic attack at the Auckland airport and lost consciousness in his legs.
“I met her in Dunedin, picked her up in the car and came home. She came right.”
The couple went to the airport the next morning and approached the Air New Zealand help desk.
“We did what we always do and went to the desk,” he said.
“We do it so they know about Jade and her Tourette.
“Jade at the table told them to go to the gate, so we went safely, and then he … told me there was a problem.”
The crew on the flight to Wellington said it was the same as the night before, and Jade remembered that he was distracted and demanding.
“he said [Jade] She was unable to walk because she was asked to go to the toilet on the plane, and her inability to use her legs was a problem.
“I asked her if she had asked me to go to the toilet. She said no, but a woman next to her on the crutch told me to go to the bathroom on the plane.”
Theresa O’Connell told staff that her daughter was now able to walk normally, but was told she needed to get a medical certificate.
Jade was allowed to fly.
“It annoys me a lot because there are a lot of people with Tourette who should not be discriminated against.
“Some of the things she says are dangerous, but we always tell people she’s got Tourette … we’m not looking at anyone blindly.”
Jade was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in January this year and was diagnosed four years later, her mother said.
“She’s been wondering for so long why she’s so different from everyone else.”
He started a dicto account to deal with the stigma by sharing snippets from his daily life and gained more than 975,000 followers on the social media platform.
“He helped a lot of people from all over the world, but it really helped her and her confidence a lot.
“Moments like this are a real setback.”
Theresa O’Connell was disappointed and the staff did not take the time to find out what was going on.
“This is very important. If one of the staff had come to talk to her they would have understood, but they did not care.”
An Air New Zealand spokesman said Jade was unable to travel due to medical reasons.
“She is now being documented to obtain medical permission to fly. We need to establish that passengers are capable of exiting the plane in an emergency.
“It is important to inform our team that every person with Tourette syndrome can present different traits.
“We are sorry to hear that she missed the first day of camp. However, her safety is our first priority and our staff make decisions with this in mind.”
Jade was allowed to board a new flight yesterday morning, but Air New Zealand said he would have a companion with him during emergencies.
Grandma’s family paid 40 340 to go with him, and the couple planned to return to Dunedin on Friday.
This article first appeared New Zealand Herald And republished with permission