Cathay Dragon

Mother of 2 takes Dragonair to task for flight upset

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 3:12am


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What could be more troublesome for a mother than trying to manage two young children on board a flight?

For Jacqueline Chan Sze-kai, it was getting shown off the plane just as it was about to leave.

Her troubles arose because of safety issues, said Dragonair, the Hong Kong-based carrier at the centre of the row. In a reply to a South China Morning Post query, it said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

The Hongkonger, who is resident in Kaohsiung, was to take a Dragonair flight back home to Taiwan on Sunday from Chek Lap Kok airport. She was travelling with her two sons, one almost two years old and the other a three-month-old baby.

"I went [through check-in] and dropping my baggage off at the Dragonair counter … through customs and … airline staff reviewing our passports and boarding passes … at the gate, as usual," she wrote in her complaint to the airline, which she forwarded to the Post.

Things continued smoothly as she carried her baby and walked with her toddler up a flight of stairs to a plane parked at an outer bay, she said.

"While passengers were boarding one after the other, I was asked by one of the cabin crew members about my older child's age," she wrote. She answered the woman, whereupon "the atmosphere seemed to have changed suddenly".

"Shockingly, one of them asked me and my children to get out of the plane. They said it was for safety reasons, since there was no one to carry my older kid."

The attendant told her she "was not allowed to take two small kids" on a flight alone, she said.

A man sitting behind them offered to carry one of the boys. But the attendant said Chan's check-in luggage had been offloaded, and she must leave. "I … wonder why they never considered this safety issue until this moment."

Arrangements were made for her to take another flight a couple of hours later, with her younger son secured in a car safety seat.

Dragonair said its policy was for the older child to wear a seat belt. It also acknowledged that "our staff should have alerted the passengers at check-in". It promised to review the procedures.

In any event, the flight had become "the worst journey I ever had from over 50,000 kilometres in the air", Chan said.