Timothée Adolphe, eminent member of the French Paralympic athletics team, certainly did not imagine the scenario that stood before him. The 400m world champion and 100m Olympic vice-champion in Tokyo in 2021 was to board an EasyJet flight to Toulouse from the capital, as part of an operation carried out with his sponsor, reports Le Figaro. But at the last moment, the blind athlete had to revise his plans, the British low-cost company having not authorized his guide dog to board with him.
However, French law makes it compulsory to take care of this type of situation. “Guide dogs and other assistance dogs are allowed to travel free of charge with their handler in the cabin of the aircraft. They must have an animal passport (showing vaccinations against rabies and other medical treatments) and of an identity card”, also specifies a European provision. Which the company obviously ignored. “My sponsor contacted their services for explanations and they were told that EasyJet was an English company and that as such it did not have to respect French laws”, indicated to the Figaro Timothy Adolphe.
EasyJet ensures that guide dogs for the blind are allowed on board
By way of justification, the company would also have argued that the animal, named Jappeloup, had not been trained in an internationally recognized school. “It’s totally false. The School of Guide Dogs for the Blind in the West where he was trained is federated at national and international level”, plagues the person concerned. For its part, EasyJet expressed its astonishment to our colleagues from Figaro. “An internal investigation is underway to understand what happened to customer service as we accept guide dogs as clearly stated on our website. EasyJet carries hundreds of guide dogs every year.”
The 33-year-old sportsman, who says he is “disappointed and angry”, has failed to obtain further explanations from the company. “I told them that I was going to record the conversation to use it eventually later. The person put the handset down and did not want to communicate,” he says. Timothée Adolphe was still able to reach the pink city aboard an Air France plane. An event without consequence, therefore, but which leaves a bitter taste to the sprinter. “We are in 2023, having to fight to simply enforce basic laws is abnormal. I was flabbergasted,” he admitted.