Sometimes there is more than 140 characters to say in response to an airline-related news story. Finally, I have decided to act on that for this story about a “cancer patient denied oxygen by EasyJet staff on a four-and-half hour flight”.
As must always be said: this is merely my personal opinion, having nothing to do with the specific airline involved, and based solely on the details given in the article…which must always be recognized as second-hand and most likely leaving out pertinent details which may or may not change what I think about the event. Read the last part again, for it cannot be stated enough.
With that out of the way, let’s summarize the story: a 56-year-old chemotherapy patient gets onto a flight, late and breathless. She requests oxygen, is “denied” because oxygen is for “emergencies only” then proceeds to suffer throughout the fight, to the extent that she wrote a note saying, “I can’t breathe need oxygen dying” which one one took notice of. She survived but a doctor says this she is “lucky to be alive”.
A person suffering severe breathing problems and being ignored indeed sounds egregious. It is egregious. The main point which works in favor of Ms. Townsend’s story is that, well, she was on EasyJet. I’m not intending to disparage EasyJet staff, but at least generally speaking, the super low-cost airlines (as a whole) often show signs of believing that, I dunno, people get what they pay for. (I just mean they’re not known for awesomely taking care of their customers.)
However, drawing on my own airline staff experiences with people, a couple of points make me wonder about her story as well. Such as:
• Nevermind that her complaint mentions that she made the flight 10 minutes late…because she got held up at security for 15 whole minutes. (Read: person with self-described delicate health decides to get on an airplane for 4.5 hours yet gives herself enough time at the airport to have reached her flight…with five minutes to spare, had it not been for that pesky, not-terribly outrageous security holdup.) That doesn’t make her a bad person. People are sometimes late. It happens to all of us. But it doesn’t sound like this lady took many precautions for her own situation to begin with, which merely casts doubt how realistic she is with expectations. Just sayin…
• It’s true that crews are restricted to administering oxygen only within specific guidelines. Yes, one of them is “difficulty breathing”, and personally if this was indeed carrying on for the whole flight I would have just given her the damn oxygen already. However, we would indeed say no to a random passenger running onto a plane late, in a panic, being out of breath and saying they need oxygen. At that point her breathing issue would have been diagnosed as part of “a logical series of events and consequences” (which is not listed as a reason we are allowed to administer oxygen).
• I find the note thing suspicious. Ms. Townsand’s story is that the passenger behind her asked if she was ok, so she wrote the note described above but “the stewards must have seen it on the chair but they did nothing” [emphasis added]. 1) If there was so much concern, why didn’t the passenger who inquired about her alert someone? If you ask someone if they are alright and they wrote a note saying they’re dying do you just shrug and say, “Great, thanks for letting me know” – end of story? Also, if you write a note that you are dying for crew members to see, what do you do with that note, if you are indeed dying? Do you wave it around like a gospel singer on Sunday and insistently ring the call bell? Of course you do. Well done. Wait – you did what now? You quietly left it on the seat next to you and waited for someone to walk by, read it over your shoulder and have that be the alarming evidence that you are struggling to breathe? Hmmm.
Whether or not this crew acted appropriately I can’t say. Sometimes crews totally suck. Maybe this one did. Her doctor claims to think so. That being said, this woman sounds like the kind of person you might roll your eyes at and ignore. Not because you have a problem with her, but because she goes about her business as if she is in perfectly robust health, but panics (with
votes notes!) when everyone else treats her that way, too. It sounds like she had an awful experience. I’m just wondering if the crew did not see things a bit differently – with some reason.