Budget carrier Tigerair has backed down and apologised to a distressed passenger after its “heartless” treatment of her received significant national media attention over the weekend.
The carrier originally refused to apologise to Melbourne woman Lenny, 27, who booked a last-minute flight to Sydney on Friday after learning her sister had been hit by a truck and was facing a possible leg amputation.
Lenny, who asked that her surname be withheld, called Tigerair to inform them their online check-in option was not working, and was told she would have to check-in at the airport.
But upon arrival, the clearly distressed woman was told three minutes was “too little, too late” and asked to pay $92 to get on a later flight, despite the original flight remaining on the ground for another 42 minutes.
After the incident went public following The New Daily’s report on Saturday, Tigerair announced on Monday that they had offered Lenny an apology and refunded the fee.
“We do sympathise with this customer’s personal situation and understand the frustration of missing the check-in closure time,” a spokesman said.
He denied the apology was a result of the media attention.
The airline couldn’t explain why the online check-in option was not working at the time.
When contacted, Lenny said it wasn’t about the money.
“I appreciate the gesture … but I doubt this would have been the outcome if I’d just called to complain,” she said.
The spokesman for Tiger said in hindsight, more “discretion” should have been used.
“The decision was made to refund as a result of an internal review that found a level of discretion should have been applied to allow the customer on the flight in this instance due to her personal situation at the time.”
He said the airline did offer discretionary refunds on a case-by-case basis.
Tiger, which is owned by Virgin Australia, has topped complaints in Australia for the past four years according to the Airline Customer Advocate report.
Air New Zealand praised for ‘lovely’ staff
At the other end of the spectrum, a young woman has praised the efforts of Air New Zealand staff during a family crisis of her own.
Wellington woman Nikki Griffith was about to board a flight to Napier when she found out her father had died.
According to her viral Facebook post, the efforts of ground staff and flight attendants put Tigerair staff to shame.
Last Sunday while rushing to the gate to board my flight to Napier I found out the tragic news that my father had passed…
“It was an extremely tough time made a lot easier by your fantastic staff. I will be eternally grateful for how I was treated and I’m sure my dad would have been so proud that his little girl was looked after in such a difficult time,” she said.
“Thank you so much Air New Zealand.”