Ryanair apologizes for preventing refugee from boarding flight

Ryanair has apologized for preventing a prominent refugee from boarding a flight to Ireland despite being in possession of the appropriate travel documents.

Iyad El-Baghdadi is an Arab Spring activist who was raised in the UAE and obtained political asylum in Norway in 2015. He told CNN he was meant to travel from Berlin to Dublin on a Ryanair flight departing at 10.30 a.m. local time on Wednesday. He tweeted an appeal to his 122,000 followers to “make some noise” about the incident.

Baghdadi told CNN: “I called the Irish embassy yesterday to make sure I can travel. They referred to the Irish government’s website, confirming I can travel. But Ryanair denied me boarding without giving me any reason,” he said.

“They told me ‘Our supervisor is busy.’ I was supposed to be in Dublin for a meeting and then travel onward to Oslo.”

Ryanair told CNN in a statement: “This customer was denied boarding because of an error made by our handling agent in Berlin. Ryanair has since made contact with the customer directly and he will travel with us later today. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

Baghdadi later tweeted that he had just received a call from Ryanair customer service offering apologies and that he would be put on the next flight and compensated.

“Now I’m thinking about all the refugees who do NOT have 122k followers on Twitter and don’t get such callbacks,” he added.

The Irish government says on its website that holders of “Convention travel documents may not be subject to an Irish visa requirement for short stays of up to 90 days in Ireland.”

“In order for the holder of such a travel document to be exempt from an Irish visa requirement for short stays, the travel document must be issued by a European State which is a contracting party to the ‘European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees,'” the website states, adding a list of countries that includes Norway.

Baghdadi sent CNN a picture of himself holding a Norwegian travel document.