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Granite Bay Woman Receives International Attention After Airline Ordeal

04/09/2015 11:59AM ● By Steven Jack

Elizabeth Sedway and her family of Granite Bay were asked to leave their Alaska Airlines flight home from Hawaii after employees were concerned she may be too sick to fly. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons)

A Granite Bay woman battling cancer was thrust into the international spotlight this week when she was asked to leave an Alaska Airlines flight home from Hawaii before it could take off. 

According to multiple reports, Elizabeth Sedway has been receiving chemotherapy treatments for multiple myeloma in California, but was returning Monday from a family vacation to Hawaii with her husband and two children. She said after boarding the flight from Lihue Airport on Kauai to San Jose that she and her family were asked to leave the aircraft because airline employees feared for her condition and whether she was well enough to fly. 

Employees had spotted Sedway in flight’s handicapped boarding area at the airport wearing a surgical mask and originally approached her to ask if she needed any help. When asked again, she said she told the employee she may need extra time to board and that occasionally she feels weak.

Sedway said she didn’t possess a doctor’s note, which could have cleared her for flight without incident.

“We were pulled off the plane like we were criminals,” Sedway told NBC Bay Area.

Sedway posted a video to Facebook of her family being removed from the flight. The video is posted below.

The Sedways were forced to spend another night in Hawaii, and booked a return flight home with Hawaii Airlines on Tuesday. However, the missed flight forced her to miss treatments, her husband missed work and the children missed school. 

The incident grabbed international attention with media outlets from around the world picking up the story in an age in which customers are increasingly frustrated with airline customer service. 

Alaska Airlines later acknowledged that the situation could have been handled differently, and released a statement that it had refunded the family’s airfares. Sedway said she planned on turning a bad situation into a positive.

“Our family talked during the flight home from Hawaii, and decided how we wanted this situation to conclude. As with most unpleasant times, there are silver linings, if we're determined to find them,” Sedway wrote on her Facebook page. “Here, we plan to donate the airfare, to be refunded by Alaska Airlines ,to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation – MMRF. In the future, we hope this airline will look at events of this kind with increased wisdom and sensitivity.”

Granite Bay Woman Grabs International Spotlight After Airline Ordeal

Today, we were at gate 8 ready to depart on Alaska Airlines for San Jose. An airline employee saw me seated in the handicap section of the boarding area. She asked me if I needed anything. The first time. I said no. The second time, O said, well I might need a bit of extra time to board, sometimes I feel weak. Because I said the word weak, the Alaska Airlines employee called a doctor, she claimed was associated with the airlines. After we board the plane. An Alaska representative boarded the plane, and told us I could not fly without a note from a doctor stating that I was cleared to fly. The video is of us being removed from the plane.

Posted by Elizabeth Sedway on Monday, April 6, 2015

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