Etihad Airways has apologized to a Scottish family after airline staff prevented a redheaded teen with a naturally pale complexion from boarding, saying she looked "sickly."
Grace Wain, 14, was traveling with her family to the Maldives for a vacation on Monday, July 6. After arriving at the Manchester airport to catch a connecting flight to Abu Dhabi, the tired teen, who was standing close to her mother, was called out by an agent at the check-in desk.
“Grace was a bit tired and hot and bothered. She was cuddling into her mum in the line,” father Paul Wain told the UK Mirror.
“One of the Etihad check-in girls then made the decision that she wasn’t fit to fly based on the fact she was pale in color and was leaning against her mum.”
Wain had reportedly been saving up for the exotic vacation for years and the entire family became distraught at the prospect of missing their once-in-a-lifetime trip. After an airport paramedic performed a check-up and deemed Grace fit to fly, the Etihad staff still demanded that the Wains produce a doctor’s letter to confirm that Grace was well enough for the trip to Abu Dhabi.
“I told them, ‘We live in Scotland.’ She is a redhead and she has a pale complexion. That’s just the way she is,” Paul Wain said.
Just two hours before the Wain’s flight was schedule to depart, they were able to obtain a letter from the family practitioner, at which point they were allowed to board.
Paul suspects the hold up had nothing to do with whether or not his daughter was healthy enough to fly but believes Etihad was trying to ground certain passengers due to an oversold cabin.
But the family’s ordeal did not end when they arrived in the Maldives. Etihad lost both parents’ luggage—and couldn't deliver them for 3 days.
Etihad issued the following statement:
“Staff were concerned about the wellbeing of a young passenger ahead of a lengthy flight. The team called for a medic who examined the child and requested a ‘fit to fly’ letter from a doctor, allowing the family to board. Our team on the ground continued to provide support ahead of the flight. Unfortunately, when the family arrived, some of their baggage was missing. The airline apologized and took all measures to find and deliver the baggage to the Wain family as soon as possible. Compensation in line with standard guidelines will be provided.”