- EXCLUSIVE: Siobhan Foster got email apology from easyJet for ‘rude’ behaviour
- The mother is escalating her complaint and seeking legal advice
A distressed and heavily-pregnant woman who was told to get off an easyJet flight after being accused of being ‘aggressive’ has been given an email from the airline appearing to apologise.
Siobhan Foster was with her husband James and their daughter Florence, who has special needs, when they boarded the plane to Ibiza last month for her brother’s nuptials.
A seemingly innocuous request to put away hand luggage escalated into a dispute with an air hostess which eventually saw everyone told to get off the aircraft.
Despite the email apology, Siobhan is escalating her complaint with easyJet and is also looking at legal action as she has multiple video recordings the family members made on their phones as well as a number of witnesses.
Around 40 member of friends and family were aboard the plane on Saturday, August 19 expecting to fly to Spain to celebrate her brother James McNally’s wedding to his fiancee Nicole Smith.
Pregnant mother Siobhan Foster was involved in an altercation onboard an easyjet flight to Ibiza last month
Siobhan (pictured with husband James), was thrown off the aircraft along with all of passengers on the plane, following a row over a piece of hand luggage
The self-employed beautician, who is due to give birth to her second child in five weeks, told MailOnline the couple had paid extra for additional leg room to be at the very front of the plane to make it more comfortable in her condition.
Her husband James was looking after their 18-month-old daughter Florence, a child with Down syndrome who also has a form of leukaemia.
Siobhan, originally from west Belfast but now living in Newton Abbey, just north of the city, told MailOnline: ‘We had got on the flight and my husband sat down with our wee girl, and it was only a wee back-pack type of bag.
‘Usually you can put them under your seat, she [the air hostess] was straight over and said, “No, no, that can’t go under there.”
‘I said, “There’s no room above, is there anywhere I could put it?” And she said, “Well, that’s up to you to find.”
‘I said, “Well, there’s people still getting on the plane and I’m heavily pregnant, I can’t be walking up and down the aisle to try and find somewhere, could you help me?”
‘And she said, “Oh, well that’s not my job – and don’t be so aggressive.”
‘I was so stunned. I said, “I’m not being aggressive, I’m only asking can you help me,” and she said, “Well that’s not what I’m here for.”
‘Other passengers were getting up to help me to try and find somewhere. Everyone is listening to all this and I’m looking at her going, “I’m not being aggressive, I don’t know where you’re getting that from. I’m not going to be aggressive to you at seven months pregnant.”
‘The main girl [stewardess] had an attitude an attitude with everyone getting on the plane, to be honest. She was telling people to go and sit in their seat in a really rude way.
‘So she came over and said to my husband, “Is there going to be a problem here?” My husband said, “No, why would there be?”
‘I just ignored the girl and didn’t say anything because I didn’t want the stress. She went, “Hello! Look at me!”
‘I just looked at her and said, “I don’t need to speak to you. There is no problem. If anyone is making a problem, it’s you.'”
Siobhan and James were flying out on August 19 with around 40 family members for her brother James McNally’s wedding
Siobhan said she was then accused of ‘threatening behaviour’ and she was in ‘pure shock’ by the claim.
She continued: ‘I said, “To be honest, you’re upsetting me because you’re going on and on at me that there’s a problem.”
‘She said she needed to go and speak to the pilot and went and got him. Two of the passengers stood up and said to the pilot that she was being aggressive towards me.
‘They were in and out and then she said, “We don’t know if we’re taking off, because we’re not here to take this threatening behaviour.”‘
Siobhan said she assured the pilot there was no threatening behaviour, she was simply a pregnant woman asking for help while her husband looked after their baby on his knee.
She added: ‘It was the quietest Ibiza flight I’ve ever been on, honestly, I couldn’t believe it was even happening.’
Despite her brother James and mother, also called Siobhan [O’Riordan], pleading for the situation to be resolved because they were heading to a family wedding, the passengers were eventually told to go back to the terminal.
Siobhan said: ‘Everyone just sat there for about an hour, the whole plane was silent, and then they came back and said the flight wasn’t taking off and that everyone was being put off the flight.
‘Other passengers were trying to get her off, the air hostess, because as I say, everyone could see what was happening. Everyone took my side. It was surreal.’
She said people even complimented her on how calm she remained and that her mum came to try and assist as she felt her daughter was being provoked.
After all the passengers were told to disembark, Siobhan and her husband, mother and brother were called over the Tannoy to go Gate 8 where they were met by staff – and police – and told they would not be allowed to fly.
Siobhan said: ‘The police made it clear that it was not their decision, that it was easyJet’s decision. One of the police officers spoke to my husband and actually told him to put a complaint in.
‘They looked dumbfounded themselves, you know? You could see that they felt for us.
‘I was crying my eyes out. The baby was crying her eyes out, she was on and off the flight and was hungry too. It was awful.
‘The child was stressed out. She broke my heart even looking at her. We had to get our personal stuff and a bag with my child’s medication.’
They had been at the airport since 1pm and left more than eight hours later after an additional wait to get their luggage back.
The family then faced a race against time – and extra expense – to get to Ibiza for the wedding day on August 21, eventually finding a route through Dublin, setting them back another £1,500.
As a result of Siobhan’s ‘aggressive behaviour’, the passengers were told to return to the terminal
She said: ‘There was only a Ryanair flight from Dublin the next day. So we got back to my Mummy’s house after 10pm, had to get the baby up at 4am, go to get a bus to Dublin Airport, just to make the wedding.
‘That was my Mummy and the brother who was getting married as well. The bride-to-be had been on the original flight with their three daughters, so she was in a state as well.
‘It totally tarnished the wedding and it ruined the whole holiday and everything. It just caused stress with everyone. My whole nerves were wracked all week then because I knew I had to fly back the following Saturday with easyJet again. My anxiety was through the roof. Luckily enough they let us on and it was a different crew.
‘I’ve had to go to the doctors because I’ve been having panic attacks over it. I actually thought I was going into early labour because I was getting pains, the whole holiday, it was awful.’
Despite an email apology, Siobhan is escalating her complaint with the airline and is also looking at legal action as she has multiple video recordings the family members made on their phones as well as a number of witnesses.
She declared: ‘I’m seeing it through. I have spoken to a solicitor already and I have sent her independent witnesses details.
‘It was so shocking. I’m just glad I had all them witnesses there, I really am, and everyone really did have my back, people who didn’t know me.
‘Out of everything the baby broke my heart because she has her wee underlying health problems and it wasn’t nice her having to go through that. It’s put me off travelling, it really has.’
Siobhan had emailed an official complaint to easyJet customer support on August 27 telling them she was ‘so traumatised after the experiences we had’.
In the correspondence shared with MailOnline, she detailed her account of what happened and ‘how stressed, upset and overwhelmed’ she was, adding that she was ‘still in shock’ and ‘seeking legal advice’.
Four days later she received a reply from someone called Harmanjot who wrote: ‘I’m sorry for the entire situation you experience [sic] on board.
‘I noticed that you received rude and aggressive behaviour [sic] from one of the staff members on board. Although, we make every effort to ensure you get to your destination with the best experience in the sky.
‘I realise that the situation must be difficult for you and I’m sorry that you felt upset and having an experience like this can create a negative impact in regard to our services as well.
‘Please be assured that we at easyJet value all our customers. We train our staff to provide the best service to all our guests and make their travel as comfortable as possible.
‘To add to that, if one is at the receiving end of rude behaviour, especially from the staff whose sole responsibility is to take care of your valued guests is simply unpardonable.
‘I am really at a loss of words after reading your email and I truly appreciate the maturity and rationale shown by you even after being at the receiving end of such unprofessional behaviour to say the least. I cannot even begin to imagine your plight.
‘I too work for the same organization and I have never seen any kind of scenario before. In fact, might I add, we follow a culture of putting the customer first and it is their right to get the attention and the service they have paid for with their hard-earned money.
‘In addition, it is upon us as an organisation to give the best experience to our valuable customers for choosing us over others.
‘We truly value your input and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to let us know what we can do better so that you would not have to experience something like this again.’
Siobhan was then invited to send her booking details in order to take the complaint further, which she subsequently has and is awaiting another response.
Harmanjot ended his email: ‘We at easyJet strive for excellence in customer service hence, I would like to apologise once again for the trouble you had. Do give us an opportunity to exceed your expectations for your upcoming travel with us.’
When Siobhan first shared her ordeal on her Facebook page it went viral and was shared almost 1,000 times, before going viral again after MailOnline reported the story.
Despite receiving an email apology from easyjet, Siobhan is now pursuing her complaint further and seeking legal advice
At that time, an easyJet spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We can confirm that flight EZY3003 from Belfast to Ibiza on 19th August was attended by police before departure due to a group of passenger behaving disruptively at check in and then onboard.
‘easyJet’s cabin crew and ground agents are trained to assess and evaluate all situations and to act quickly and appropriately to ensure that the safety of the flight and other passengers is not compromised at any time.
‘The Captain took the decision to ask all passengers on the flight to return to the terminal so the situation could be resolved and as soon as it was they reboarded and the aircraft continued to Ibiza.
‘Whilst such incidents are rare we take them very seriously and do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour towards our crew or other passengers. We would like to apologise to the other passengers for any inconvenience for the delay this caused.
‘The safety and wellbeing of our passengers, crew and ground agents is always easyJet’s priority.’
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