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Mum slams airline for splitting up family on flight & forcing her kids to fly on separate plane

A FAMILY was left fuming after they were split up and forced to fly separately for a holiday that was two years in the making.

The Kitchen family from Dundonald in Northern Ireland booked a trip to Florida back in 2020, but were stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aer Lingus prevented the two oldest kids from flying with their parents

Father Robbie was then diagnosed with prostate cancer, further delaying their plans, before receiving the all clear after months of treatment.

Two years after booking it, they were finally in a position to go on their long-awaited holiday, only for a problem with their flight to threaten their plans once again.

Robbie and his wife Sarah were due to fly with their three kids from Belfast airport to London Heathrow with Aer Lingus, where they would transfer on to their Florida-bound Virgin Atlantic plane.

However, the first of the two flights was oversold and daughter Molly, 16, and son Zack, 18, were told they’d have to get the next flight on their own, without the rest of their family.

Sarah told the BBC Ulster show On Your Behalf, that her, Robbie and their youngest child Charlie, three3, had already been checked in and given their boarding passes when they realised there was a problem.

She explained: “[Airline staff] said, ‘I’m sorry, the flight is overbooked and there is no room for your other two children. We’ll just put them on the next flight – that’s just how it is. There’s nothing we can do.’

“I was in shock and I was trying to process what we could do. The children were distressed and they just couldn’t believe what was happening. So I said can we at least swap and leave one adult with one child and then one of us go with two children?”

But the family were told that if they swapped the seats, they’d be “voluntarily giving up a seat,” which would have invalidated their seat on their connecting flight to America.

They had no choice to board the plane and wait to see their two kids later.

However, things became even more stressful for the parents after they arrived at Heathrow, where they received a message from Zak.

Getting the later flight to London meant he and Molly would have missed their connection to Orlando, so instead of flying them to Heathrow, the airline instead put them on a taxi to Dublin.

From there, they were put on a direct flight to Florida, meaning the family had to fly separately for the entire journey, instead of just the first leg.

Sarah continued: “It was going to be a flight on their own to America. We had no say in this decision and that upset me.

“They were just expected to reach the airport and work out where to go next. They weren’t given any flight details – they were just told to go to an Aer Lingus desk. My son at that stage was very upset.

“I was just so upset at this point. I was just heartbroken that our family trip was being ruined like this, and more just nervous – I did not know if they were even going to get on the plane and make it to Orlando. The girl actually gave me a big hug.”

Eventually, after some communication between the Virgin Atlantic flight crew for Robbie and Sarah’s flight from Heathrow and the Aer Lingus crew in Dublin, the parents were informed that their kids were in place on their flight and the family met up successfully in America.

But the ordeal did have a negative impact on the first few days of their holiday.

Sarah added: “It took us a few days to even get into holiday mode because everyone was so upset.”

Aer Lingus offered each family member a €50 (£43) flight voucher as compensation.

An Aer Lingus spokesperson told the Independent: “We sincerely apologise to Sarah and her family for their experience – this is not the level of service we seek to provide at Aer Lingus.

“Our Ground Operations in Belfast City Airport are handled by a third party supplier – we will conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this incident.

“Our Customer Care team have been in direct contact with Sarah to arrange compensation.”

Sun Online Travel has also contacted Aer Lingus for comment.

Meanwhile, this passenger refused to move seats so a family could sit together on a plane.

And a flight attendant revealed the crucial rule for families not seated together on flights.

The Kitchen family were separated for their flights to Orlando, Florida (stock image)

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  1. Pingback: We’ve been left £10,000 out of pocket after being banned from our flights due to tiny boarding pass error

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