It’s a story to put a shudder in your step. A 36-week pregnant mum was given an internal examination (yes, an internal) on an airplane to check whether she was fit to fly. She was then escorted off the plane, and her whole family had to find an alternative way to get home. It’s enough to bring on labour – though fortunately it didn’t!
In the week when new guidelines about flying when pregnant were issued, it’s a reminder that airline carriers have different policies – even if you have a ‘fit to fly’ doctor’s note.
So what’s the story?
Kerry Deane, 32, was 35 weeks pregnant when she flew out to Tunisia in September on a 7-day Thomson package holiday. Kerry was travelling with her partner and children Broxon, 10, Alicia, 9 and 6-year-old Garyn.
For her return flight, Kerry was now 36 weeks pregnant – but within the safe flying guidelines issued this week, and within the guidelines for short haul flights with Thomson Airways.
According to Kerry, before booking the 7-day holiday, she checked with her GP and the travel giant 4 times whether she would be OK to fly, and was told she met the requirements to fly on Thomson Airways. Before travelling, she got a letter from her doctor declaring her fit to fly and this was faxed over to Thomson’s HQ while she was on holiday, according to the Daily Record.
But the flight home was operated by another airline carrier, not Thomson Airways. After boarding, Kerry was stopped by staff who insisted she undergo an examination, including an internal, by 2 female doctors at the front of the plane.
I’m sorry, say that again…
Yep, according to Kerry, after having her blood pressure taken and bump felt, she was subjected to an internal examination in the crew area of the plane, where the passenger food is prepared. Kerry and her family were then asked to leave the plane.
“The way we were treated was an absolute disgrace,” she said. “They didn’t carry out the examination in any sort of sterile way, and I can’t believe we were thrown off the plane as it was obvious I was not in labour.
The family were stuck at Tunisia’s Enfidha Airport for several hours before being put on to a flight to Newcastle. They then had to travel the last 150 miles to their home in Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire by minibus.
“It’s not about compensation, I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other pregnant women in the future.”
“My youngest son was also extremely upset, and we were marched off the plane in front of everyone else – it was horrible.”
Kerry has since had her baby – a son called Hudson.
So what does the holiday company say?
A spokeswoman for Thomson responded, “We are sorry to hear of Ms Deane’s experience on the return from her holiday in Tunisia.
“On this occasion the flight was not operated by us but by a third party airline. As every airline has its own policy regarding flying during pregnancy we advised Ms Deane to speak directly to this airline prior to travel to avoid any potential issues.
“As we understand Ms Deane has instructed a solicitor, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”
What can we learn?
If you are right on the cusp of your 35/36 pregnancy week when you fly back, make sure that you know the guidelines of the airline you’re flying with – before you even book the flight.
But an internal – seriously? And on the plane? Looks like there’s some education required by at least one airline…