COUNTY NEWS: Sussex boy, 15, '˜kicked off' plane while travelling alone
A mother has branded an airline's booking policy '˜crazy' after her 15-year-old son was '˜kicked off' a flight to France.
Stephanie Portal, of Bridge Road, Worthing, in West Sussex, is unhappy with the way Easyjet treated her son, Casper Read, when his plane was overbooked at Gatwick Airport on Thursday (July, 20).
The 45-year-old said: “I think it raises a lot of issues that Easyjet has to deal with.”
Casper had been headed to Toulouse to stay with Stephanie’s parents.
At the airport on Thursday morning, Stephanie was told the plane was overbooked – but that she need not to worry, as there were ‘always spare seats’, according to Stephanie.
When she received a text from Casper to say that he was seated on the plane, she left to return to Worthing.
Yet just as she was about to board a train, Stephanie received another text to say her son had been ‘kicked off’ the plane.
Casper later told her that it had become apparent there was one seat short on the plane and another passenger had started ‘making a fuss’.
A flight attendant asked Casper to come with her – and before he knew it she had taken him off the flight.
“I don’t know if the flight attendant chose him at random, but there were two other adults there,” Stephanie said.
“I think an adult should have gone. A 15-year-old should have had priority over an adult.”
She said Casper had not understood he was being removed from the plane.
“He felt really cheated,” she said.
Fortunately Stephanie was able to return to the airport and meet him at the departure gate.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t been there,” she said, adding that it was ‘intimidating’ for him to be left there alone.
“He didn’t know where he was supposed to go,” she said. “No one had told him his options.”
When Stephanie joined him, staff checked the computer but, finding that the next flights were also overbooked, he was put on a plane at 8pm – almost 10 hours after his original flight.
“I think he should have been automatically put on the next flight,” she said.
“I don’t think its ok to wait 10 hours.”
After the incident, Stephanie said Easyjet should stop overbooking flights.
“When you buy a ticket, you are not even guaranteed a seat,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
A spokesman from Easyjet said: “EasyJet is sorry that Casper Read’s flight from London Gatwick to Toulouse was overbooked on 20 July.
“We are investigating why he was able to board the aircraft as he should have been informed at the gate.
“EasyJet has a procedure to protect unaccompanied minors but unfortunately this was not followed on this occasion and so this is being investigated.
“One of our managers escorted Casper to reunite him with his mother who was already at the airport.
“We transferred him to an alternative flight later the same day and provided a voucher for refreshments whilst he waited.
“A member of our customer team will also be in touch directly to arrange for his EU261 compensation to be paid and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”