A Crawley family was devastated when a sick grandmother was not allowed on her flight home after a dream holiday.
Pamela Pointer, 86, was separated from her family and missed Christmas after she was told at an airport check-in desk that she was not fit to fly.
Her family was shocked that she had to go through this ordeal and reveal personal details about her cancer in front of relatives.
Her granddaughter-in-law, Natalie Watson, 31, from Maidenbower, said: “It was such a sad sight to see her in an airport in Florida being told she was going to miss Christmas with her family, in floods of tears, feeling like she was responsible for it and have people talking about her, like she was not there, about the cancer.”
Natalie said Virgin Holidays staff questioned Pamela in front of her grandchildren at the end of the group’s £25,000 two-week holiday to Disneyland.
Pamela from Horley fell while on holiday with 20 relatives and had a hip replacement.
The family was told Virgin did not allow people to board flights less than ten days after an operation but Pamela’s surgeon gave a note which said she was fit to fly.
Natalie said: “My brother-in-law spoke to them at some length and they said, come to the airport and they will make a new assessment for her.”
The family was shocked to discover the assessment was a telephone interview at the check-in desk. Pamela was told she was not fit to fly and pleaded with staff saying she had breast cancer and all she wanted to do was spend Christmas with her family.
Her flight was rebooked for the following day. Pamela and three relatives stayed with her but were later told she was not allowed on that flight without a medical note about her cancer. They went home four days later.
Natalie said Virgin had not responded to her emailed complaints since December 30. She said: “I just want to someone to accept responsibility for what I think is pretty terrible treatment.”
A spokesman said Virgin Atlantic was “sorry to learn” of Natalie’s experience, would contact her “very soon with the view to resolving this to a satisfactory conclusion” and apologised for “any miscommunication” with Pamela: “It’s always a difficult decision to not allow a passenger to fly on medical conditions, however, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers. If the Virgin Atlantic ground staff have any doubts over the wellbeing of a customer, they will seek medical advice from their aviation medical advisory service. Unfortunately, on this occasion, on the day of travel it was assessed that Mrs Pointer was not fit to fly. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to Mrs Pointer and her family, however, we do emphasise that this difficult decision was only made with her wellbeing in mind and based on expert medical advice.”
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