Joe Thompson's family says the 12-year-old tried to board planes on four previous occasions, only to have panic attacks so bad he had to give up, the Daily Mirror reported. The family even considered traveling home by boat and car, only to find the visa problems insurmountable.
The Thompsons moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2009 because the father, Tony Thompson, had found a job there. Joe showed his first sign of extreme anxiety about flying on the return flight after a visit to Britain.
The problem forced the family to split up temporarily. Pauline Thompson got a job last year with a solicitor in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset and moved there with Joe's older sister, Chloe.
Tony Thompson and Joe boarded a plane with Russell Hemmings, a hypnotherapist. Hemmings said it would not usually be necessary for him to accompany a patient but Joe's anxiety was "off the scale."
"With Russell's help we managed to get him on the plane, but soon after take-off he got very upset. Russell did his magic and all was good," Tony said after they landed at Heathrow.
Joe said he just wanted to get home to see his dog.