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Ryanair apologises after autistic boy is forced to take a Covid test

Ryanair apologises after ‘petrified’ autistic boy, 12, is forced to take a Covid test at Valencia airport before boarding a return flight to the UK despite having an exemption letter

  • The airline said that it ‘regrets’ the ‘stress’ caused to Callum Hollingsworth, 12
  • It came when the youngster tried to board a plane from Valencia in Spain to UK
  • Footage shows the ‘petrified’ child in tears as staff debate which nostril to prod
  • Callum, from Harlow, Essex, bursts into tears and shouts ‘no’ as he hides his head

Ryanair has been force to apologise after making an autistic boy take a Covid test before flying – despite him being exempt.

The airline said it ‘regrets’ the ‘stress’ caused to Callum Hollingsworth, 12, when he tried to board a plane from Valencia in Spain to Britain.

Footage shows the ‘petrified’ child – wearing a Borussia Dortmund football top – in tears as staff debate which nostril to prod the swab up.

An employee, wearing a face covering, asks him ‘do you prefer this one’ as she points to his left side. He replies: ‘No, not when it goes all the way up.’

Callum, from Harlow, Essex, then bursts into tears and shouts ‘no’ as he hides his head in his hands.

A man recording the video says: ‘A child with ADHD and autism refused a Ryanair flight even with a GP letter stating exemption. Not good enough for Ryanair.’

The airline said it ‘regrets’ the ‘stress’ caused to Callum Hollingsworth, 12, when he tried to board a plane from Valencia in Spain to Britain

Footage shows the ‘petrified’ child, wearing a Borussia Dortmund football top, in tears as staff debate which nostril to prod the swab up

The youngster’s mother Katy later told the BBC: ‘They said if you don’t have a Covid test you can’t go home, so we had no choice.’

Callum first took a Covid test in January but it was a ‘nightmare’ so he was granted a medical exemption letter by his doctor.

He took another one before he flew out to Spain, but Ms Hollingsworth said it took a two-month build up for him to do it.

She said she had wanted to take his son to his ‘happy place’ in Spain after he struggled during lockdown.

But she said he was horrified when they were told he would have to have another test to get back to England – even though she showed the GP’s letter.

People with certain medical conditions do not have to take a test to get to Britain if they have a note from a doctor.


Ms Hollingsworth said her son ‘lost it and had a meltdown’ because he thought it was his fault

Ms Hollingsworth said her husband was forced to hold down her son while two employees tested him

Ms Hollingsworth said her son ‘lost it and had a meltdown’ because he thought it was his fault.

She claimed: ‘He started hitting the chair and then started hitting himself. The staff were just ignoring us. All they kept saying was ”it’s not our problem”.’

She said her husband was forced to hold down her son while two employees tested him.

She added: ‘Callum tried to be brave but he was petrified. The fact that he didn’t need this one made it even worse because we’d told him the previous one was going to be his one and only test.’

A Ryanair spokesman said: ‘Ryanair regrets to hear of the stress caused to Ms Hollingsworth and her family.

‘Ryanair fully complies with EU & Govt travel restrictions, which are constantly changing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘We continue to make improvements and implement procedures to ensure the health and safety of our passengers and our crew is prioritised while complying with each country’s government guidelines at all times.

‘Ryanair apologises for any inconvenience caused to Ms Hollingsworth and her family.’

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