A woman flying to Manchester from the Greek island of Zakynthos on a Thomas Cook flight last Thursday claims she was threatened by airline staff with removal from the plane because of her severe strawberry allergy.
Chloe Fitzpatrick, 19, and her boyfriend Matthew Higson were reportedly boarding the flight when Fitzpatrick informed the airline crew of her airborne allergy to all strawberry products.
According to Lancashire Telegraph, airline crew told Fitzpatrick that they would make an announcement to the other passengers. However, shortly after the pair took their seats, a member of the airline staff came over and told Fitzpatrick she was “not comfortable” having someone with her allergy on the flight, the Telegraph reports.
The 19-year-old then claims she was told to figure out her own way home.
“I was told I would have to sort out an alternative way home,” she said to the Lancashire Telegraph. “[The crew member] then listed times where other passengers who had been refused to fly due to their allergies.”
“She said the pilot had agreed with her and was not comfortable having such a passenger on board,” Fitzpatrick continued. “I was then told it was an unfair expectation to refuse other passengers full access to the onboard menu.”
Fitzpatrick said she was told the flight would not cater to one person “at the expense of the other 200” on the plane.
“The manager then asked if she could serve the products just to customers at the front of the plane,” Fitzpatrick said to Lancashire Telegraph. “She appeared to have no understanding of the concept of an airborne anaphylactic allergy. I felt belittled and patronized and embarrassed about my condition.”
However, the airline crew did agree to remove the strawberry products from sale for the duration of the flight, and allowed Fitzpatrick to stay on the plane.
Fitzpatrick, who was diagnosed with the allergy at 10 months old, said she has always advised cabin crew of her allergy when she travels and never had an issue.
“I feel very badly let down by Thomas Cook and find it difficult to comprehend the difference in attitude of the cabin crew on our way to Zakynthos compared to the way I was treated on the return flight home. On our outbound flight the cabin crew were so understanding and could not have done more for me,” she said.
“I hope lessons can be learned from my experience and that they will review their cabin crew training,” she added.
Thomas Cook Airlines told Fox News it is up to the captain and crew to decide the best course of action for the safety of the passengers.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always our first priority. When a customer lets us know that they have an allergy, the cabin manager will share the information with the captain and crew as part of their pre-flight briefing to decide on the best course of action, based on the severity of the allergy.
“On speaking with both Ms. Fitzpatrick and the captain, the cabin manager made an announcement to all customers asking them to refrain from opening products containing strawberries that they may have brought on board, and advised that no products containing strawberries would be sold on the flight.”