IT WAS meant to be a dream trip to Disneyland Paris for seriously ill children, but the first steps of the journey turned out to a nightmare for their parents as they tried to board a Ryanair flight.
After the National Children of Courage Awards were held in Limerick last week, all the children honoured at the ceremony and their parents were thrilled to receive a free trip to Disneyland courtesy of the local Share A Dream foundation, which makes dreams come true for sick and terminally ill children across the country.
Eight children, aged five to 12, were honoured at the ceremony. However, when they arrived at Dublin Airport to board the flight, the no-frills airline forced the families to repack their luggage, which included vital medical supplies for their children, because they exceeded weight limits. Among those travelling was six year-old Sophie Mulcahy from Rhebogue, who suffers from a rare condition called Ohdo Syndrome and is believed to be one of only 40 known cases in the world. She spent the first six months of her life on a ventilator in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and has already undergone six heart operations amongst other procedures.
A spokesperson for Share a Dream branded the incident a “disgrace”, but Ryanair has now promised that these families will have hassle-free return flights from Paris.
The airline expressed its regret for “causing inconvenience” to the families and said it was “pleased” they had managed to avoid fees by repacking the bags. One parent was facing a €120 fee for a suitcase that was 6kg over the 15kg limit. However, the other parents allowed them to stow items in their luggage to spread the weight.
Ryanair said that while it regretted the inconvenience caused the families agreed to Ryanair’s (very well-known) checked-in baggage policy”.
“We have made sure that the check-in agent will be aware of the fact they have medical equipment and they won’t be charged excess weight,” said a spokesperson for the low-cost airline after the incident.