26/02/2015 07:57 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Boy With Autism Banned From Flying Home After Holiday In Turkey

Birmingham Mail

An 11-year-old boy with autism was banned from boarding a flight home from Turkey with his family after being deemed 'unfit to fly'.

Parents Arshad Sherbaz and Selina Begum spent £2,300 for the Thomas Cook package holiday with son Mustafah and his sister Meelam, 19.

But they told the Birmingham Mail they were barred from boarding the return plane.

The couple and their children were forced to stay in the country for almost two days until they obtained a 'fit to fly' medical certificate from a doctor and Mustafah – who communicates through sign language - was prescribed anti-anxiety drugs for the journey home.

Dad Arshad, 41, from Birmingham, told the newspaper: "They told us we needed a doctor's note to allow him to fly from the airport and were asked to sit in another area while we watched all the other passengers board the plane. We were gobsmacked.

"Someone from Thomas Cook told us that they had spoken to the pilot who had refused to let my son on the plane to fly home. They said Arshad was a safety risk and was not fit to fly.

"We couldn't understand. I had notified Thomas Cook before the holiday about my son's disability.

"The only thing I could think of was that he had a small tantrum on the flight on the way out."

Yet even when the couple and their children returned to the airport, Arshad, who works as his son's full-time carer, said neither airport nor travel firm staff asked to see the 'fit to fly' certificate.

The dad said: "After all of that they never asked to see the letter.

"When we got onto the flight we were just so thankful. Even though it was raining when we landed, we were relieved to finally be back in the UK."

After the newspaper highlighted the story, Thomas Cook offered the family £750 in vouchers as compensation

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: "We take the welfare and safety of all of our customers very seriously and we can confirm we are in contact with the Sherbaz family regarding their journey home from Turkey in June 2014.

"Prior to their return flight, the company we use for medical assistance advised that Mr and Mrs Sherbaz's son would need to be seen by a doctor before flying home to ensure he was well enough for the flight.

"Our crew explained this to the family and we ensured they were able to travel to the hospital. They returned to the UK on our flight the next day at no cost and we also ensured they had support and welfare at the airport.

"Our customer services team are now liaising directly with the family to ensure they are compensated for the additional expenses they incurred and we'd like to apologise for any confusion caused during their holiday. At all times, our concern was for the health of Master Sherbaz."

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