Mum’s horror after landing from trip to find sick autistic son wasn’t on plane
A mum has described her horror after she landed from holiday to find her autistic son who had been taken ill wasn't put on the plane.
Nicola Purdy and her children Jack, 24, Alex, 12 and Darcie, 11, had been to Crete, Greece, for a week – returning home on June 4.
After arriving at Heraklion Airport for their return flight to Cardiff, Jack, who has autism, fell ill with a stomach migraine – a severe pain in the abdomen that can cause vomitting.
Jack was taken away by a doctor in a wheelchair and Mrs Purdy, 48, claimed she was assured her son would be specially assisted to board the plane back home.
When Mrs Purdy, from Swansea, boarded the plane soon after, she noticed Jack's assigned seat was unoccupied – but was confident he was on the sat in priority seating further forward.
After the flight, which takes more than four hours, Mrs Purdy and her children went to collect their luggage at Cardiff Airport , when they realised Alex's case was missing.
The family then realised they could not find Jack, reports Wales Online.
Mrs Purdy, who works at Swansea University, began a three and a half hour search for Jack, with the help of airport security, police and the British Consolate.
They eventually found out he had not been put on the flight at all, and was still in Crete, without his passport, mobile phone or money.
Describing the nightmare ordeal, Mrs Purdy said: "On the way back Jack became ill.
"He is mildly autistic and had a stomach migraine where he was vomiting violently. He started feeling ill and to be fair to the hotel staff they let him lie down and keep cool. We arrived at the airport and I had booked a VIP lounge so we were able to go there.
"My son was still ill and the staff decided to call a doctor, despite me telling them that when he gets like this, nothing can be done for him.
"But the doctor came and took him, and his boarding pass and said they would put him on the flight in priority seating.
"I noticed he was not in his allocated seat, but we were right at the back. I thought he was sat further down the front, there was no reason he would not be on that flight.
"I was perfectly oblivious and we arrived at Cardiff and went to get the luggage. We waited a while, and there was nobody left in arrivals or departures and I thought, where is my son?
"I found the night duty manager at the airport and in the end I had to contact the police and the British Consolate. Eventually we found out he was still in Heraklion Aiport. I could not believe it.
"What must have been going through his mind? He must have been thinking we had all abandoned him. He had no means of communication with anyone and was in another country. It was awful.
"It would have been awful for this to happen to someone more vulnerable or younger than Jack. I thought he was safe and was on the flight. It had never happened to me before. Why would I not assume he was on the flight?
"I posted what happened online and I have had some trolls saying, 'Why did you not look that your son was on board?' but why would I after what I was told?"
Mrs Purdy, of Raleigh Close, in Sketty , Swansea, who booked the family holiday following the sudden death of her husband, Alan Purdy, 69, who had a heart attack on October 10, called TUI explaining the situation, asking what they were going to do about it.
Jack was taken to a public hospital where free medical care was given and then returned to the airport by himself, where the TUI manager in the airport was waiting.
Mrs Purdy said: "I spoke to the British Consolate and they got him on the next available flight the next day, accompanied by someone from TUI and he was then put in a taxi home to Swansea.
"He was tearful. When he got home he was still not well at all.
"It's awful what has happened to my son. I felt completely out of control of the situation. It was such an awful experience.
"I believe TUI should compensate us and ensure it does not happen to anybody else.
"I am livid, this caused so much distress to all of us, especially my youngest children, who were inconsolable."
A TUI UK spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear that Mrs Purdy’s son was taken ill in the airport lounge before his flight.
"Once we were made aware that he had returned from hospital and was still at the airport we fully supported them by arranging both a flight back to the UK and onward travel home, covering the entire cost.
"We were in direct contact with Mrs Purdy to keep her updated with the situation and have tried to make further contact following their return to the UK.”
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