In the latest disastrous PR move, budget airline Ryanair tried to force an elderly woman to check in her oxygen mask during the return leg of her journey to Ireland.

Bridie O’Donnell, 70, from Donegal was told by Ryanair check-in staff at Stansted Airport in London that she could not bring her life-saving breathing equipment on board a flight to Londonderry.

“The treatment was absolutely ridiculous,” the Buncrana woman told the Belfast Telegraph.

“There was no compassion."

Despite presenting a medical letter to Ryanair staff, the grandmother, who suffers from a range of health problems, was told the oxygen constituted a second piece of carry-on baggage.

O’Donnell was instructed to check in the medical device, which resembles a small laptop, despite having no issue during her outbound flight.

“I had a letter from the hospital saying that I have the condition and need it, but when we got to the gate I was told I couldn’t bring it on,” O’Donnell said.

“I said it was medical equipment and tried to show her the document, but she asked for a letter from Ryanair.

“She said I had to check it in — but I was totally out of breath, feeling terrible and there was no way I could have done that with my health.”

After some deliberation, which the elderly woman described as “embarrassing”, she managed to squeeze the breathing apparatus into her friend’s carry-on bag.

“I handed in the boarding pass and told her how upset I was, but there was no response.

“With my high blood pressure and asthma I felt so ill, I was exhausted and nearly in tears.

“I think if they had dealt with it better I wouldn’t have been half as angry,” she added.

“But I thought the treatment was absolutely ridiculous.”

“I said to my friend, never again as long as I live will I fly with them.”

Defending the move, the airline said O’Donnell had failed to inform the airline of her “special requirement.”

“Unfortunately this passenger failed to contact Ryanair’s low-call special assistance line ahead of her flight to inform us of her special requirement,” the airline said in a statement.

“Therefore, our handling agent asked her to accommodate all items in her one free 10kg carry-on bag, which she did before boarding the aircraft.”

Bride O'Donnell (70)Belfast Telegraph