To borrow a saying frequently used on Twitter these days, Virgin Airlines has a message for United and Delta:
Hold my beer.
In the wake of the latter two companies embroiling themselves in indefensible scandals, Virgin has gone ahead and committed what might be the worst PR disaster of all.
Billie-Jean Simon tells The Daily Mail Australia that she and her three-year old daughter, Payton, were boarding a Brisbane flight bound for Newcastle last Wednesday.
The pair arrived at the gate on time, but Payton felt sick during boarding and had to be rushed to the bathroom.
The toddler sadly suffers from acute myeloid leukemia and "you just can't tell a kid to hurry up when they're being sick," Billie-Jean's mother, Tina Mancini, told the newspaper.
This seems like an obvious statement and not much of a controversy, right?
We wish that were the case.
According to Tina, Billie-Jean and her sick child returned from the bathroom just "one minute" after the cut-off time for boarding.
Billie-Jean explained the situation to the Virgin employees at the gate.
She said that Payton was on her way to receive stem-cell treatment in Newcastle, an appointment she very badly needed to attend after having already endured 16 rounds of chemotherapy at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.
This was all relayed to the attendants and "they closed the door in her face," Tina told Sunshine Coast Daily.
She added that Billie-Jean could "see people still walking down" the tunnel to the airplane.
It was still parked at the gate. The airline very easily could have let Billie-Jean and her CANCER-STRICKEN young daughter on board.
Alas, they stuck to the absolute letter of their law and did not budge on their boarding policy.
"When she asked about the next flight she was told it would be another $600, despite having insurance," Tina explained. "With money so tight at the moment, it just wasn't something she could afford."
Therefore, mother and ill child drove until 1 a.m. to reach their destination.
They have since set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with the financial burden of Payton’s disease.
Over the last few weeks, the airline industry has been caught in one
public relations humane disaster after another.
You've likely read by now about the United Airlines passenger who was bloodied and bruised after getting dragged off an overbooked flight.
But there was also the Delta passenger who got the boot from a plane for using the bathroom while it was still grounded.
And then Delta was at it again just a few days ago when it threatened to jail a mother and father who initially refused to take their very young kids off a plane that, once again, had been overbooked.
Watch their exchange with a flight attendant below:
But closing the boarding door in the face of a three-year old with cancer?
The competition is stiff, but we need to congratulate Virgin Airlines for this act.
It's officially the most despicable example of airline company behavior to date!