Family of 4 with 2 young kids (8 and 6) went to Cyprus for half term holiday. 6 year old daughter has peanut allergy.
Flew out with British Airways(BA) – no issues at all, called in advance about allergy (they said I didn’t need to call though, just tell them at check in), told check in, who told the gate and on the plane they made standard announcement that no nuts would be served and for no one to eat nuts if they’d brought them on the plane – simple.
Flew back with Turkish Airlines 09:05 Sunday 5th June TK961 from Ercan in Northern Cyprus. Called them 2 weeks before flight to register my daughter’s allergy against the booking, customer service confirmed this had been done. I have the evidence of the call log on my side.
At check in on morning of flight I also checked and the lady on Turkish airlines desk said it was fine so no issues.
I told the flight attendant when we got on the plane, she went off and came back with another employee and started asking questions about whether we had informed them (we had by phone and at check in) and also how airborne the allergy was? This is because they wanted to serve peanuts to 1st class passengers who were about 15 rows in front of us. I said we hadn’t measured it and that due to air circulating on the plane in a closed space the distance might not matter. I repeatedly asked them to just do the safe thing and please not serve nuts to the approximately 12 first class passengers on the 1hr 30 min flight to Istanbul.
They then asked me to come to front of plane, took me off plane onto the stairs and told me the captain and senior staff had decided they would still be serving nuts to first class, so I needed to sign a blank piece of A4 paper (no official form) confirming that as first class were going to get peanuts if anything terrible happened to my daughter then it was my responsibility. I did not sign that I just said I would write factually what had happened which I did i.e. made request via phone which was confirmed in advance, check in lady said no issues and I am now simply asking for first class to not get peanuts for the short flight.
Two airline employees then came to my seat and told my wife and I that they had phoned ahead again (maybe to head office) and they had decided to remove us from the flight – they took our bags off and dumped us on the runway. Their ticket sales team in the airport (man on the plane that tried to get me to sign bit of paper was there and said this next bit) that we couldn’t fly with them until after I emailed into them and they reviewed our issue which would take at least 2 days therefore no onward support given.
We were forced to then book emergency flight with BA for the next day, book a taxi to other side of island for next day, sort extending things like car valet at Heathrow, dog in kennels etc – total additional
Cost £2500. Plus cost of initial flights so upwards of about £3,300 out of pocket.
I’m currently going through online feedback forms which is very frustrating – aside from an initial response which was insufficient that came through on Sunday night I’ve had nothing back. I cannot talk to anyone and feel I deserve that.
My wife and kids were crying when we were kicked off the plane and left traumatized by the experience. Turkish airlines just left us on the runway, we were then put in a police immigration room with about 6 policemen sitting there doing nothing and then asked to collect our bags and that was it.
I’m seeking full compensation from Turkish airlines for the original flight and late booked BA flight plus other costs incurred. It’s money I don’t have, and I need it back urgently.
I will also be going through whoever regulates them to seek further compensation for distress and loss of earnings and also make sure their policy is reviewed.
Clearly it is flawed in that a mistake was made getting my initial message through on the booking to the plane, but I can almost understand mistakes can happen. What I don’t think I’ll ever understand is how, once in the position we were on the plane that they decided to throw a young family
off the plane just so first class could eat peanuts. I repeatedly told them that they just need to not serve peanuts to first class, and I would be willing to speak to the passengers if need be. Due to this process and policy, I really don’t think anyone with a nut allergy should fly with them because even if you tell them in advance you could get kicked off the plane like us.
I’d really appreciate your help on guidance on further course of action for me but also on how to help make sure this terrible experience doesn’t happen to anyone else – it could have been a lot worse if we had just trusted that the phone call, I made 2 weeks before and check in desk confirmation were accounted for on the plane.