Alaska Airlines has affirmed their employee’s decision to refuse a cancer patient accompanied with her family from boarding a plane bound for California from Hawaii, for not obtaining a clearance from her attending physician, allowing her to fly.
Alaska Airlines Director of Customer Advocacy Ray Prentice in a statement on said, “These kind of decisions are never easy. Our agent was acting in the best interest of the customer in the hope of preventing an inflight medical emergency during the five-hour flight back to California.”
A resident of Granite Bay, Calif., Elizabeth Sedway, was removed from her flight bound for San Jose, Calif., from Lihue, Hawaii, along with her husband and two sons, Monday, after airline ground personnel noticed she had put on a surgical mask to avoid airport germs and told employees.
Sedway, who is suffering from multiple myeloma, informed the crew she might require a bit of extra time to board the airplane because she at times feels weak. Employees then called MedLink, an on call service which provides medical advice from highly trained medical professionals, who specializes in air travel and make judgments about a customer’s capability to fly safely. Sedway was advised by Medlink to secure a doctor’s clearance stating that she is ok to travel, Prentice said.
However, Sedway stated she would sacrifice several chemotherapy sessions due to her missed flight, was shocked. “I mean I’ve flown, we’ve flown for five years with this diagnosis. I felt humiliated,” she said.
Because of this unfortunate misunderstanding, Alaska Airlines has refunded since, her family’s airfare and an extra night’s accommodations cost in Lihue. The family was re- booked on a return flight the next day.
“We could have done some things differently,” Prentice said. “The things we have learned from this situation will influence how we approach similar situations in the future.”
Airline policy says a doctor’s medical certificate is only necessary when a person’s medical condition causes doubt that they are able to complete the flight in considerable safely without requiring professional medical attention.
“If a customer indicates that he or she may have difficulty flying, it is our policy to follow the advice of MedLink’s trained medical professionals,” Prentice said.