Elizabeth Sedway, a woman suffering from cancer, was kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight on Monday after an airline worker claimed she needed a note from her doctor permitting her to fly. Sedway was returning home from Hawaii to San Jose with her family when they were all escorted off the plane.
As a result, the family had to book another hotel and flight, which ultimately concluded with Sedway missing a chemotherapy appointment for the treatment of her multiple myeloma.
On Facebook, Sedway described the events leading up to this situation. She had been waiting in the disabled section of the boarding area, wearing a surgical mask to protect her from germs. This was when she was approached by an airline worker asking if she needed any assistance.
Initially, Sedway declined, but when asked a second time Sedway informed them that she may need assistance as she occasionally gets weak. “Because I said the word weak, the Alaska Airlines employee called a doctor she claimed was associated with the airlines,” Sedway wrote on Facebook. “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.”
Sedway posted a video on Facebook showing her and her family being escorted off the plane.
“I’m being removed as if I’m a criminal or contagious because I have cancer, no note to fly,” she sad whilst being removed.
On the video Sedway can be heard apologizing to the other passengers for holding up the flight. One passenger responds by saying “God bless you.”
During the exchange, Sedway emailed her doctor in an effort to resolve the situation. “He said … ‘if you feel fine you should be able to fly,’” Sedway told KTLA. However, since he hadn’t specifically stated she was cleared to fly, she was still removed from the aircraft anyway. An airline worker had informed Sedway that the staff were concerned about flying over the ocean with a sick passenger.
Since the incident, the airline has released an apology, which CBS San Francisco has cited as follows:
“We regret the inconvenience Ms. Sedway experienced yesterday and are very sorry for how the situation was handled. Her family’s tickets have been refunded and we will cover the cost of her family’s overnight accommodations in Lihue. While our employee had the customer’s well-being in mind, the situation could have been handled differently.”
In a Facebook update early on Wednesday, Sedway has stated that she will be donating her refund to a cancer research foundation.
“As with most unpleasant times, there are silver linings, if we’re determined to find them,” she wrote. “Here, we plan to donate the airfare, to be refunded by Alaska Airlines, to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation – MMRF. Additionally, this airline will likely look at future events of this kind with increased wisdom and sensitivity.”
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