Elizabeth Sedway had to miss chemotherapy at home in California Tuesday because Alaska Airlines refused to let the multiple myeloma patient fly without a doctor’s note. The airline has since apologized for the incident.
“I’m being removed as if I’m a criminal or contagious,” she said in a emotional video posted on Facebook Monday night showing Sedway, her husband and two sons being escorted off the flight. They had been on vacation in Hawaii. “My family is being forcibly removed from a plane because I have cancer.”
“God bless you,” other passengers told the 51-year-old, who can be heard crying as she exists.
An Alaska Airlines employee noticed Sedway was wearing a surgical mask to avoid germs in the airport.
“She asked me if I needed anything,” Sedway wrote in a Facebook video post that has been viewed more than 20,000 times in two days. “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.”
Sedway, who says she has had no trouble flying in the five years since her diagnosis, had to miss her chemotherapy scheduled for the next day as a result. Her husband missed work and her sons missed a day of school.
Alaska Airlines apologized for the incident Tuesday.
“We regret the inconvenience Ms. Sedway experienced yesterday and are very sorry for how the situation was handled,” spokesperson Halley Knigge told a local CBS affiliate. “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.”