A sick Kenyan woman seeking specialized treatment was ejected from an Etihad flight to India on Sunday moments before the plane took off from JKIA.
This is the second time the woman has had the experience as she sought treatment outside the country. The first time was on Tuesday when the airline did not allow her to check in.
Wangare Ndumia, together with her sister Ann Ndumia were asked to vacate their seats and leave the plane after the flight attendants allegedly got a call with the directives questioning her fitness to fly prompting the security personnel to ask them to get out of the plane.
Ann unsuccessfully tried to engage the airline officials to allow her to fly. She maintained that she was stable enough to partake the journey for the treatment that she so much needed.
The airline officials, however, insisted that she was unfit to fly.
The differences between Ann and the flight attendants began when she asked for her sister to be allocated a favorable seat with sufficient leg room in consideration of her condition.
Her right leg is secured with screws and metal bars due to a condition of loss of bone mass and it cannot bend.
They also had in their possession an authorization letter from National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) signed by Dr Samson Kuhora. It indicated that Wangari has been diagnosed with severe osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) and large bone loss of the distal left femur as a result of a fracture and had been referred for insertion of mega prosthesis at BLK Hospital, New Delhi.
“NHIF has reviewed this case and is undertaking to pay up to Ksh500,000 which is equivalent of USD 4,921 for the procedure including investigations related to the primary reason for travel,” read the letter.
In the first instance, Ann wondered why they were being given the bad treatment by the airline since it could not refund them the money they had paid for the journey. With teary eyes, she stated, “And they refused to refund us the cash we paid a total of Ksh116,870.”
In a report by The Standard, the airline placed the blame on a local booking agent known as Prudential Travels. It addressed the agent stating, “For all medical reasons travel you ought not to issue tickets before medical clearance with a fit to fly remark.”
The airline also indicated, “Kindly note your ticket was within 24 hours we cannot cancel, only airport taxes can be reversed and a credit note issued under the same passenger names. No cash fund is given on Air Arabia. You may cancel the inbound flight.”
While trying to secure another flight with the same agent, Ann informed that she was asked to pay Ksh 50,000 more but she only had Ksh 25,000. She made a deal with the agent to pay the balance as soon as they returned from India.
It was at that point that the agent secured the flight with Etihad to Delhi via Abu Dhabi, scheduled for Sunday at 2:15pm.
The agent ensured that all the medical documentation for Wangari was in order this tie round; signed by one Dr Diane Mclvor of Etihad.
The airline officials, after having security personnel removing the two from the plane, however, gave an explanation stating, “We called Medilink, which is the global agent on medical issues for all airlines based in Singapore and they said she was not fit to travel.”
The airline official in charge also claimed that Wangari was apparently in serious pain when she was being assisted to board the plane. Ann quickly replied saying, “But she is sick. What did they expect her to do?”
Wangari was a victim of an accident in 2017 that left her hospitalized for a whole year.