Last updated: 11:09 AM ET, Wed April 08 2015

Alaska Airlines Under Fire For Booting Cancer Patient

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | April 08, 2015

Alaska Airlines Under Fire For Booting Cancer Patient

Alaska Airlines is facing severe criticism after having a woman with cancer who said she felt “weak” removed from a flight before it took off on Monday.

The woman, Elizabeth Sedway, was traveling from Hawaii back home to San Jose, Calif., on Monday. As a result of having to make new arrangements, Sedway, suffering from multiple myeloma, missed a chemotherapy appointment on Tuesday.

Sedway posted a minute-long video of her being forced to leave the plane, and posted it on Facebook along with this description:

“Today, we were at gate 8 ready to depart on Alaska Airlines for San Jose. An airline employee saw me seated in the handicap section of the boarding area. She asked me if I needed anything. The first time. I said no. The second time, (I) said, well I might need a bit of extra time to board, sometimes I feel weak. Because I said the word weak, the Alaska Airlines employee called a doctor, she claimed was associated with the airlines. 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."

The video appears here, courtesy of ABC7 News San Francisco:

“I’m being removed like I’m a criminal or contagious because I have cancer,” Sedway can be heard saying in the video. “My family is being forcibly removed from an airplane because I have cancer, no note to fly.” Sedway told reporters that she emailed her doctor during the exchange, and though he did say she should be able to fly, because the doctor did not specifically say she was fit to fly, the airline continued with removing her from the plane.

Initially, the airline refused to comp the Sedways or put them up in a hotel. Now Alaska Airlines is facing a firestorm of backlash in the social media court of public opinion.


Sedway apologized to the other passengers on the flight while being removed, and one can clearly be heard saying “"God bless you" as she walks up the aisle.

Alaska Airlines has since issued an apology, saying, "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.”

This morning, on her Facebook page, Sedway continued to take the high road.

"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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