FLYING SHAME

Dis­abled woman de­nied first hol­i­day in 20 years af­ter U-turn

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY NIALL CHRISTIE

AN air­line has crushed a dis­abled woman’s dreams af­ter telling her she would be un­able to travel on its flight.

Jet2 con­firmed Leona Davidson, 28, would be al­lowed to fly to Tener­ife, but has now changed its mind just five weeks be­fore the trip.

A DIS­ABLED woman has been de­nied her dream fam­ily hol­i­day af­ter Jet2 bosses changed their mind over whether she could fly with them.

Leona Davidson, 28, was due to fly to Tener­ife with eight rel­a­tives at the end of May for what would have been her first flight in more than 20 years.

Leona, from Mood­ies­burn, was 10 she was di­ag­nosed with the rare pan­tothen­ate ki­nase-as­so­ci­ated neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, and is one of only two peo­ple in the UK with the con­di­tion.

Af­ter a change in her cir­cum­stances meant Leona could fly again, mem­bers of her fam­ily be­gan to plan a hol­i­day away.

On book­ing with Jet2 in Oc­to­ber 2018, Leona’s aunt Chris­tine pro­vided the com­pany with full in­for­ma­tion about her con­di­tion and needs, in­clud­ing the di­men­sions for Leona’s wheel­chair and her status on pal­lia­tive care.

Af­ter look­ing over these, the com­pany re­port­edly con­firmed that this would not be a prob­lem and pro­cessed con­fir­ma­tion and pay­ment for the hol­i­day eight months later.

The fam­ily then in­formed Leona of their plans, with the en­thu­si­as­tic Rangers fan – who has re­ceived wide­spread sup­port from the club’s fan com­mu­nity – buy­ing her hol­i­day wardrobe and plan­ning the trip months ahead.

How­ever, in March, prob­lems started to arise.

When Leona’s mum An­gela con­tacted Jet2 to in­quire about pro­vi­sions for their flight, in­clud­ing the process for get­ting to the flight at Glas­gow Air­port, the com­pany be­gan to ques­tion whether they could ac­com­mo­date Leona.

Af­ter of­fer­ing to travel to both Glas­gow Air­port and down to Leeds to check pro­ce­dures for the trip, An­gela was given the dev­as­tat­ing news on Tues­day, more than seven months af­ter they had booked it, that Leona would be un­able to fly.

An­gela said: “I called in March and re­it­er­ated that Leona had been pal­lia­tive for years. We went to the GP who said there was no rea­son that Leona couldn’t fly.

“We were then told to go back and ask about their ca­pa­bil­ity to sup­port her level of dis­abil­ity. I have been pur­su­ing them re­lent­lessly for weeks, and then on Tues­day evening they called and told me we couldn’t fly.

“I had to tell my daugh­ter, who has fought for years against the odds, the re­al­ity that she can’t go.

“We have all lived with this as a fam­ily for 17 years. It is not about the money, it never was. The only so­lu­tion that is sat­is­fac­tory is that she is on that flight with our fam­ily.

“Leona is dev­as­tated, still very up­set and crushed. It is aw­ful. This is some­thing huge for her to fly for the first time in 20 years, and hav­ing the sup­port of my fam­ily there would take the bur­den off of me.”

The com­pany of­fered the use of a spe­cialised har­ness to get Leona onto the plane free of charge. Un­for­tu­nately, this was not suit­able for some­one with her level of sco­l­io­sis.

The fam­ily were given a re­fund for Leona and An­gela’s trips, as well as £300 com­pen­sa­tion, by Jet2.

How­ever, the fam­ily say they are not in­ter­ested in the cash and would like a pub­lic apology from the com­pany, a do­na­tion to the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, and as­sur­ances that no other fam­ily will be put through a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

The fam­ily are very in­volved with the char­ity, with Leona at­tend­ing the Glas­gow fa­cil­ity once a week for therapy ses­sions, in­clud­ing get­ting fa­cials, man­i­cures and pedi­cures, along­side the care and emo­tional sup­port of­fered to the David­sons.

They hope that the char­ity may be able to get some small ben­e­fit from this mis­take by Jet2.

An­gela said: “There are now five weeks to go un­til the date of the hol­i­day.

“They ac­cepted the wheel­chair di­men­sions and her dis­abil­ity at the time of the book­ing. They were made fully aware.

‘‘ I had to tell my daugh­ter, who has fought for years against the odds, the re­al­ity that she can’t go

Leona Davidson, with her mum An­glea, was told she was un­able to fly to Tener­ife with her fam­ily

Rangers fan Leona has re­ceived sup­port from the club’s sup­port­ers af­ter her hol­i­day was can­celled, and below right, at the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice

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