A pregnant mother claims she was forced to sleep in a bus shelter after Tigerair refused to let her fly, despite travelling with the airline just days earlier.
On Sunday, Aileen Chand, on holiday with her husband Sharneet Chand and their two-year-old son, was told at the boarding gate in Sydney that she was not permitted to fly home to Melbourne.
For her original flight, the 34-week pregnant woman showed Melbourne Airport’s Tigerair staff a doctor’s certificate permitting her to travel, however the certificate was deemed void for the return leg from Sydney Airport.
Mr Chand took to Facebook to vent his anger at the airline, and claimed an exhausted Ms Chand and son had to sleep at a bus shelter before friends were able to pick them up.
“I asked the Tiger staff if Tiger could give us an accommodation as my wife and child were both very exhausted and we had no money to book any last minute accommodation,” Mr Chand wrote.
“To which she responded ‘your accommodation is not our problem we can only put you on another flight in the morning’.
“So here I am … sleeping at a bus stop with my 34 week pregnant wife and a hungry two-year-old son.”
Mr Chand’s Facebook post recounting the incident was shared more than 4600 times and was liked more than 12,000 times.
The post has since been deleted.
On Monday, 30-year-old Ms Chand told Seven News that she was “gobsmacked”.
“The lady let my husband and son pass [through the boarding gate] and she had a stern look and said, ‘Are you pregnant?'” Ms Chand said.
“I was really taken aback by the tone of the attendant … I said ‘of course, I am 34 weeks’.
“I handed her the medical certificate and she called through to a colleague who said not to let me on and that I would have to find a doctor in Sydney to write me a certificate to fly back to Melbourne.”
According to the couple they were forced to argue the point with two different Tigerair staff for 20 minutes.
They were told that despite being 34 weeks pregnant when she flew the first leg, she had moved into the 35th week of pregnancy for the flight home.
“Our pregnancy policy states that medical certification is required for Tigerair Australia customers who are flying between 30 – 34 weeks pregnant and that flying is not permitted from the beginning of the 35th week,” Tigerair told The New Daily in a statement.
Under Tigerair policy this meant she could not fly without another doctor’s certificate, according to the staff at Sydney Airport.
The Chand family were then booked by Tigerair onto an early flight the next morning, and told to see a doctor for a new certificate.
After seeing his pregnant wife and child fall asleep at the bus shelter, Mr Chand posted to social media about the ordeal.
The family was picked up by friends in Sydney and stayed the night with them.
They reportedly flew home on another carrier the next day.
‘Policy applied correctly by staff’: Tigerair
Tigerair offered to fully refund the family’s travel expenses but defended the actions of its staff.
In a statement, the airline said: “Technically the policy was applied correctly by Tigerair staff.
“All airline policies are different which is why it is important to check the relevant detail on the website.
“This is a very unfortunate situation.”
Fellow budget airline Jetstar allows women to fly up to 40 weeks, provided they had a doctor’s certificate.