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Anorak | Fear of flying meant boy took 16 months to get from Abu Dhabi to Somerset

Fear of flying meant boy took 16 months to get from Abu Dhabi to Somerset

by | 7th, October 2013

flying abu dhabi

JOE Thompson, 12, took 16 months to fly from the Abu Dhabi to his native Weston-super-Mare, in Somerset.  No, not a RyanAir booking gone awry. Young Joe became terrified of flying. The Times reports that he was only able to return to the UK after “months of preparation by a hypnotherapist, who accompanied him on the journey home.”

One word: boats.

But we’d be wrong. His father ways he was unable to obtain the visa required for a trip by land and sea. So. Joe had to fly or remain in AbuDhabi forever.

Or maybe take a cruise ship?

But, then, what about another word: drugs. We get  no word on them. But they do work.

Joe’s father, Tony Thompson, “estimates that his son’s phobia has cost the family more than £40,000 in extra accommodation and cancelled flights.”

Joe landed back home this morning. He said:

 “I’m so happy to be home. I can’t believe how cold it is here. I just want to get home and see my dog. I haven’t seen him for two years and I just want to give him a big hug.”

Joe’s trauma began in March 2011 after boarding a flight to Sri Lanka for a rugby tournament. Crew told him to leave the plane. Says Mr Thompson:

“It was terrible. I had 40 other children with me who were taking part in the tournament. I couldn’t leave them so I had to let Joe get off. I called my wife and she came and picked him up. He was fine until he got to check-in and then he fell apart. He got stomach pains, he collapsed and sat on the floor sobbing. It was awful. He never talked about the plane crashing. He just said each time ‘It’s the height’.”

But Russell Hemmings, a hypnotherapist, thought he could help. After three months coaching, Joe and Russell took the Quantas flight from Dubai to Heathrow. Says Mr Hemmings:

“I used a combination of hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy. Joe started having a meltdown at the airport, but we worked through the issue. Only in the most extreme cases of flying phobia would an accompanied flight be needed, but Joe’s anxiety and panic was off the scale. This case was very complex and challenging, but I said it was possible to get him home and I’m thrilled I did it.”

You cannot but feel for Joe. The entire plane experience is one of jeopardy, constant reminders of the dangers of travelling by jet. You even leave via a “terminal” .

And that’s where drugs come in. Or the drink trolley, as the airlines call it…



Posted: 7th, October 2013 | In: Strange But True, The Consumer Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink