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By Jonty Dine for RNZ
A family with four disabled children had their long-planned holiday ruined as they were turned away from their Jetstar flight after waiting in line to check-in their daughter’s wheelchair.
Casey Fredericks’ daughter suffers from functional neurological disorder, and one of her five children has autism and two have ADHD.
The Fredericks whānau checked in at Auckland Airport 45 minutes before their scheduled departure to Wellington.
Casey took the children through security while her husband went to check-in his daughter’s wheelchair.
“He was stuck behind a few other people so he was just waiting his turn and when he got there they said they had closed it all off.”
Shocked, the parents pleaded with the airline.
“They said ‘no you failed to get here on time’, and I proved with the screenshots of when I did everything and it was all in the time, and they said ‘no it doesn’t matter, we don’t care you failed ‘, and the customer service lady actually turned her back on me and walked away. “
They were left with the option of paying for another flight or having the wheelchair picked up within 30 minutes by someone in Auckland.
“[My husband] said ‘I don’t know anyone in Auckland’, and they said they can’t put it on another flight unless he is on it and the next flight wouldn’t be until tomorrow, which would have cost at least another $ 480 on top of what we have already paid. “
The family had made the airline aware they would be traveling with a wheelchair.
“When we booked it we said that our daughter had a wheelchair and you click this box for special assistance, it was already well and truly prepared.”
Jetstar said it had been in contact with the family.
“We appreciate this situation was very frustrating and disappointing. We have reached out to Ms Fredericks to understand exactly what happened at the airport and how we can support her and her family.”
However, the Fredericks family said they have yet to receive any contact after leaving the airport.
“It is a bald-faced lie, they haven’t contacted me or my husband at all, not through email, text or phone call, I think it shows that they will lie to cover up bad service.”
The trip had been a long time coming for the family who had suffered a tough couple of years, including losing a baby.
“We thought it would be nice for the kids to get away and with autistic children you have to absolutely talk them through it so they understand the whole process, it was three months of planning and it all stuffed up in half an hour.”
As well as the frustration for the family, the trip has taken a physical toll on their daughter.
“The trip has caused quite a bit of pain, we didn’t want to miss out on the accommodation which was another $ 1000. We had already driven from Tauranga to Auckland to catch the flight, and then we drove from Auckland to Wellington, so just being in the car for so long her legs locked up and she is back in the wheelchair tonight. “