An autistic woman has accused easyJet of “acting like bullies” after her request to move to a quieter seat resulted in her being led off a plane by police.
Manuela Atzori, 39, had boarded a flight from London Stansted to Glasgow on 21 September but became overwhelmed by noise and went to the back of the plane to get some air.
As she stood by the open door with the plane still on the tarmac, air stewards asked if she was unwell. She explained she was autistic and was sensitive to noise but had flown with easyJet before.
“People were laughing and shouting and I said I was over-sensitive to it,” the businesswoman told the Herald newspaper.
“They gave me a seat but I was only there for a few seconds before another steward came over and said: ‘It’s not noisy at all’.
“I asked if I could sit in another seat, but they said no and asked me to leave the flight.”
Ms Atzori’s passport and boarding pass were taken away and she was led away from the aircraft by police, before waiting for hours in the main terminal for another flight.
She was initially told she could travel on a later flight to Glasgow, but staff eventually informed her that this would not be possible, so she had to spend the night in a nearby hotel.
A spokeswoman for easyJet insisted that the airline would “never prevent someone from flying because they are autistic”.
She added: “Unfortunately Ms Atzori was unable to travel to Glasgow on 21 September as our crew had concerns for her well-being as she was clearly distressed.
“We transferred her flight and provided overnight accommodation and she was fully supported by EasyJet employees along with the special assistance provider at the airport until she flew to Glasgow on 22 September.
“We understand the situation was difficult for Ms Atzori and have been in regular contact with her since.
“Our pilots were trying to act in the best interests of the customer and we believe they were compassionate and supportive throughout.”
The company said it was working with National Autistic Society and the Alzheimer’s Society to help people with “hidden disabilities” who needed extra help when travelling.