CANCER

Are airlines too quick to throw sick passengers off a flight? Maybe not

Note: Today we’re introducing a new feature that we’d like to do as often as we can. We’re calling it “Op-ed” and, as the name suggests, it’s a perspective from the other side of the counter. Please be civil with your comments. Thank you.

The story on the face of it is a complete nightmare — a cancer sufferer with multiple myeloma, who was enjoying a Hawaii vacation with her family, was booted off her return flight on Alaska Airlines because she didn’t have a doctor’s note.

And, a passenger who recorded an exchange on a JetBlue flight between the flight attendant and a different cancer patient was removed from the flight in retaliation for refusing to erase a video of her interaction with the patient.
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Kicked off a JetBlue flight for recording a cancer patient’s expulsion

How far would an airline go to avoid another embarrassing cancer-patient-denied-boarding incident? Ask Steven Leslie, a passenger on a JetBlue Airways flight last week — just as Alaska Airlines landed in the news for expelling a sick passenger.

Shortly before a scheduled flight from Albuquerque, NM, to New York, Leslie found himself a row away from a family being quizzed by a crewmember about their child’s medical condition. The boy had cancer.

“The cancer patient was deemed too sick to fly by the airline crew and was removed from the aircraft,” he says. “I recorded this incident on my smartphone.”

That didn’t go over well with the flight crew, he says.
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No refund for a sick passenger?

Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com
Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com
After Merrill Hakim is diagnosed with lung cancer, she asks her airline for a refund on a non-refundable ticket. But is that allowed?

Question: I have tickets on Aer Lingus to fly from Dublin to Paris. I was diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks before we were due to leave.

I had no problem getting a refund for our transatlantic flight with United Airlines, but Aer Lingus was only willing to refund the taxes unless I could reschedule within 30 days. Given the situation, that was not possible. They said the ticket would still have been good until the end of April, which is when we bought them, but who can make a commitment at a time like this?
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US Airways tells customer her cancer isn’t terminal enough for a refund

Not the friendly skies. / Photo by wbav - Flickr
Not the friendly skies. / Photo by wbav – Flickr
Ben Coleman and his wife were supposed to fly from New York to Oakland last November on US Airways. The couple had purchased nonrefundable roundtrip tickets on US Airways for just under $1,000.

But in October, Coleman’s wife was diagnosed with cancer.

“Her diagnosis is positive and the doctors tell us — nothing is certain, of course — that it will be a hard year, but expect that she will lead a long healthy life.”

That’s when things got a little complicated.
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