Here’s a story that can’t help but make you shake your head. Earlier in the week a lady was flying Alaska Airlines from Lihue to San Jose, when she was denied boarding for having cancer.
Here’s how Elizabeth Sedway, the passenger, described the incident on her Facebook page:
Today, we were at gate 8 ready to depart on Alaska Airlines for San Jose. An airline employee saw me seated in the handicap section of the boarding area. She asked me if I needed anything. The first time. I said no. The second time, O said, well I might need a bit of extra time to board, sometimes I feel weak. Because I said the word weak, the Alaska Airlines employee called a doctor, she claimed was associated with the airlines. After we board the plane. An Alaska representative boarded the plane, and told us I could not fly without a note from a doctor stating that I was cleared to fly. The video is of us being removed from the plane.
And here’s the video she took while being removed from the plane:
So what possible explanation could there be for this? Here’s an apology and explanation from an Alaska spokeswoman, via CNN:
“We regret the inconvenience Ms. Sedway experienced … and are very sorry for how the situation was handled,” Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said. “… While our employee had the customer’s well-being in mind, the situation could have been handled differently.”
Egan, the Alaska Airlines spokeswoman, acknowledged that the carrier’s policy when someone has a medical issue is to call MedLink, a group of ER nurses and doctors. The idea, she explained, is that “it is better to address medical issues or concerns on the ground rather than in the air, especially on flights to or from Hawaii” — which in that case would last five-plus hours over open ocean.
Alaska Airlines since apologized to Sedway “for the disruption this has caused,” in addition to refunding her family’s tickets and paying for their overnight accommodations.”
I don’t think anyone was being malicious here, but rather that there was probably just some miscommunication and a lot of ignorance.
FlyerTalk member SF1K was actually on the flight and shared what he witnessed, which sounds pretty bad. It sounds like there was quite a bit of back and forth as well, which only added to the humiliation:
They had already told her no in the boarding area. Then changed their minds and let her board. As she came in and was greeted and ine of the FAs said something along the lines of “hope your ok” to which she responded “no I’m not – I have cancer and they almost wouldn’t let me fly” she was in tears. She had already cried in the boarding area as well.
After she was seated there was more back and forth and then they deplaned her and her family right before we closed the door. The captain said to each one of the kids, the husband and to the wife that “everything would be ok”. He seemed quite sympathetic. I don’t know who made the call on whether she could fly or not.
What a terrible situation…