A blind woman was refused boarding due to her guide dog not having the correct documentation.
The airline, easyJet, has offered an apology to Joanna who was stopped from getting aboard her flight due to her guide dog’s papers.
Joanna Jones was forced to fly from Belfast to Gatwick with her guide dog aboard a completely different airline.
The dog did have on a collar tag and a harness, that’s given to official guide dogs, but Joanna was informed that the dog required a certificate for the return journey.
The airline did transfer Joanna to another flight after they were contacted by the Guide Dogs Association in Belfast.
Barry Toner, Joanna’s fiancé, who also requires an assistance dog, spoke of how he had a telephone call from Joanna telling him how easyJet had said she was unable to board her flight. Barry said:
“She said they were asking for a certificate to prove that her dog was, in fact, a guide dog, despite the fact the dog was wearing an official guide dog harness and had the guide dog medallion on its collar.”
“This certificate they were asking for, we simply are not given one. It’s not a document that I or other guide dog owners that I spoke to online have ever heard of.”
Mr Toner spoke of a similar situation with the airline in the past but he had ultimately been permitted access to the flight.
Andrew McConnell, easyJet’s corporate affairs manager, said that easyJet were pleased to welcome passengers with guide dogs and have hundreds flying with them each and every year.
“However, in line with CAA guidelines, easyJet’s regulations make clear that documentation must be carried showing that they are a trained guide dog,” he said.
“Guide dogs receive intensive training from accredited organisations to ensure that they can cope with the conditions on-board an aircraft.”
“In this case, unfortunately Miss Jones did not have this documentation with her and by the time it was faxed through she missed her flight.”
“EasyJet staff offered every assistance to Miss Jones and transferred her free of charge onto the first available easyJet flight this morning.”
John Welsman, transport policy officer for The Guide Dogs Association, did say that easyJet had followed the correct flight guidelines in this situation:
“While what happened to Ms Jones is unfortunate, airlines do have rules which say that assistance dog owners must provide proof of their dog’s status.”
“Those rules are in place to protect passenger safety, and we would remind all our guide dog owners to carry their ID cards with them at all times.”