Schoolboy stranded in Abu Dhabi to be driven back to UK
A father and son are set to travel from the UAE to the UK by land after the boy suddenly developed an acute fear of flying.
The Mail on Sunday reported that Joe Thompson, 11, has tried to take four flights in the past four months but every time he becomes too distressed to board the plane – even though he has flown long-haul all his life.
His condition is now so bad that his father, Tony Thompson, is going to bring Joe back to Britain via road, sea and rail.
Thompson, 63, was quoted as saying: “There was no event that prompted it. It just happened out of the blue. And the fear is quite acute. He’s fine until he gets to check-in and then he falls apart.
“He gets stomach pains, he collapses and sits on the floor sobbing. It’s awful. He never talks about the plane crashing. He says it’s the height.” The Mail reported that Thompson and his wife Pauline, 48, moved to Abu Dhabi in 2009 when he landed a job at a private hospital.
He said: “In March, my wife took Joe back to England for half-term. He was fine on the way out but on the way back he suddenly got this terrible fear. He couldn’t get on the plane.
“Pauline took him home and we rebooked the flight for a week later. He said the flight was too long so we organised a stopover in Turkey to break it up. He was fine and we thought that was the end of it.”
However, Thompson told the paper that shortly afterwards he and Joe were due to fly from Abu Dhabi to Sri Lanka to take part in a rugby tournament, when the youngster “became so traumatised, the crew said he had to get off”.
The paper added that a fear of flying that appears without warning and for no apparent reason is a recognised phenomenon, although it normally affects adults rather than children.
Thompson told The Mail on Sunday: “We’ve tried four times now to get Joe on a plane but he just can’t do it.”
He added that the family had sought professional help but it has not helped. Thompson is now planning an alternative journey home by land.