Irish father and daughter stranded in Ghana after airline row

Irish citizens were refused permission to board flight after disputing extra fee for luggage

Michaella Itaire and her father Michael  pictured with former taoiseach Enda Kenny. The pair say they were refused entry onto their flight from Ghana back to Europe due to luggage issues.

Michaella Itaire and her father Michael pictured with former taoiseach Enda Kenny. The pair say they were refused entry onto their flight from Ghana back to Europe due to luggage issues.

 

An Irish woman and her father were left stranded in Ghana on Saturday after their airline refused to let them board their flight back to Europe due to luggage issues.

Michaella Itaire and her father Michael Itaire were booked to fly to Brussels via Morocco with Royal Air Maroc on Saturday from the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital city Accra.

The pair, who are both Irish citizens, had spent a two week holiday over Christmas in Ghana visiting family.

Mr Itaire, who is half-Ghanaian, was due to fly onwards to Dublin while his 23-year-old daughter would remain in Brussels where she is studying a Masters degree.

Ms Itaire graduated from Waterford Institute of Technology last year with a degree in legal studies and international trade and is a member of Young Fine Gael. She says she needed to return to Brussels this weekend to take an exam on Monday.

However, she said when she arrived with her father at Kotoka international airport in the early hours of Saturday morning they were told they had too much luggage and would not be able to travel.

Speaking to The Irish Times on the phone from Ghana, she explained how in Brussels the Royal Air Maroc airline official had allowed them travel with a total of five bags. However, when checking into their return flight they were informed four bags was the maximum allowance.

“My dad asked to speak to a supervisor and he was told five bags was a violation of their policy. How were we supposed to know that when they let us through in Brussels? He gave us the ultimatum of paying over €100 for the last bag or we couldn’t get on the flight.”

Travel refused

She said her father eventually decided to leave one bag behind and made his way through security with his daughter. However, upon arrival at their gate they were told all their bags had been taken off the aircraft and that they would not be allowed travel.

“It was the same woman at the gate who had insulted us before at check-in. I showed her my ticket but she turned her back on me and ignored us. She would not allow me to board and would not speak to me or reply when I asked why. I was so humiliated I wanted to cry.

“I was subjected to verbal discrimination based on being an Irish foreigner. Even when people came to my defence for this ill treatment I felt terrible. I tried not to cry, especially in front of her.”

Once the flight had taken off, the father and daughter made their way to the Royal Air Maroc office outside the airport building where they requested to be put on the next flight but say they were told the cost of a new flight was $400 (€328). Ms Itaire said she contacted the Irish consulate in Accra where an official took her details but informed her that there would be no staff available to help until Monday. She said they were unable to afford new flights back to Europe and had been left stranded in Ghana.

“This day has been so stressful. It was so humiliating to watch the airline yell at my dad in front of people in the airport. I swear this experience has left a mark, I never would have been treated like this by an Irish airline.”

The Irish Times sought a comment from Royal Air Maroc but received no reply.