Alaska Airlines refunds fares for California cancer patient removed from flight

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2015 12:41 PM

(Reuters) - A Northern California cancer patient whose removal from an Alaska Airlines flight caused outrage online said on Wednesday that the carrier refunded her family's airfare, which will be donated to research.

In a video posted on her Facebook page, Elizabeth Sedway said she was asked to leave the flight from Lihue Airport in Kauai, Hawaii, to San Jose on Monday after an Alaska Airlines employee said she would need a doctor's note to ensure that it was safe for her to fly.

"I'm being removed as if I am a criminal or contagious," Sedway says off-camera as the video shows the interior of the plane and passengers taking their seats. "Because I have cancer and no note to fly. Does anybody wonder how I got to Hawaii?"

Sedway said she had been sitting in a handicapped section waiting for her flight when an Alaska Airlines employee asked her if she needed any help. She said she responded that she might need a bit of extra time to board because sometimes she felt weak.

The airline brought in a doctor to speak with her and, after the plane had boarded, sent in an employee to ask Sedway, who was traveling with her family, to leave, she said on Facebook.

Alaska Airlines apologized for the incident but said the employee had Sedway's health in mind.

"We regret the inconvenience Ms. Sedway experienced Monday," airline spokeswoman Halley Knigge said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. "Her family's tickets have been refunded and we'll cover the cost of her family's overnight accommodations in Lihue."

Sedway posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday that the "silver lining" of her family's experience would be that the value of their airline tickets would go to study the blood cancer multiple myeloma, for which she is being treated.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)