An Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi was aborted at Manchester Airport at the last minute to allow a couple to rush to the hospital to see their dying grandson.
A travel agent from Bradford publicly praised the Abu Dhabi-based airline for the ‘over and above customer service’ it provided to her clients.
Becky Stephenson, a travel counsellor from Bradford, added in a comment on the travel industry Facebook page Travel Gossip that the couple were about to turn off their mobile phones when they were informed of a critical condition of their grandson.
“They alerted the cabin crew who managed to get a message to the pilot as the plane taxied to the runway,” Stephenson was reported as saying. “He took the decision to return to the gate so the couple could disembark, but not only that, the crew also arranged for the couple to be assisted at the airport and they even got their car delivered from the car park.
“Everything little thing you could think of, they took care of. Sadly my customers’ grandson passed away the day after but had they not been allowed off the flight and had to fly back from Abu Dhabi they may not have made it to his bedside.”
More than 60 people commented on her post on Travel Gossip, mostly praising Etihad.
The couple can re-use their tickets to fly at another time, Etihad said.
“Never in the 25 years I have been in travel have I ever heard of an airline going above and beyond with their customer service,” Stephenson added in her Facebook post.
A pilot allowed an elderly couple to get off a plane moments before take-off so they could visit their dying grandson in hospital.
They had boarded the Abu Dhabi-bound aircraft at Manchester Airport when they received a text message about their relative’s condition.
The flight, which had been taxiing towards the runway, returned to the gate so the couple could rush to their grandson’s bedside.
He died later on the same night.
The couple’s travel agent Becky Stephenson said the 30 March incident was “very unusual”.
“I’ve been in the travel business for 25 years and never heard of this happening,” she said.
Ms Stephenson, who is based in Bradford, praised the Etihad Airways pilot and said she had not heard of an airline going “above and beyond with their customer service” in such a way.
“I’m just really grateful that my customers could get back to see him,” she said:
“My customers were so grateful that staff were very helpful and they were taken care of.”
“The flight still went ahead after the couple got off,” Ms Stephenson added.
“Etihad have said they can use the ticket again on a different date.
“But my customers are not thinking of when they’re flying back out again.”