A 30-year-old woman was asked to leave an EasyJet flight to Greece after she had a tonic-clonic seizure while boarding the plane at Gatwick airport on 31 August.
Helen Stephens explained that the seizure only lasted “seconds” and that paramedics had said she was fit to fly. She told the Independent that the experience of having to leave the plane was embarrassing and made her feel as though she had made a spectacle of herself.
EasyJet offered Ms Stephens a seat on the next flight to Greece and arranged overnight accommodation for her. A spokesperson for the airline said that EasyJet’s primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of the passengers on the flight. The spokesperson added that EastJet’s decision was made in line with International Air Transport Association’s guidance. This guidance says a person should not fly for 24 hours after a tonic-clonic seizure without medical clearance.
Simon Wigglesworth, deputy chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: “We were sorry to hear that Helen was unwell before boarding the flight. Naturally, this was a very distressing experience.
“Epilepsy is a varied condition which affects everyone in different ways. Some people can recover from a seizure in minutes, while some can take much longer. This is very much down to the individual and they know their condition better than anyone. We are not aware of any evidence that suggests flying is harmful for people with epilepsy.
“However, we do recognise that airlines have a duty of care towards everyone on board. The safety of people with epilepsy, and other passengers and staff, is of paramount importance.
“If people with epilepsy think there is a possibility they might have a seizure on a plane, it is helpful to tell the cabin staff. This will help to let them know what is happening and how they can help. We urge travel companies to ensure their staff are trained in epilepsy first aid, so they know what to do if someone has a seizure and how to make them safe.”