'Too pregnant to fly' - for return trip, anyway

Last updated 08:08 19/09/2012
Sarah Clear
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
STRANDED: Jetstar was happy to take Sarah Clear to Auckland but disinclined to bring her back.

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At 35 weeks pregnant, Sarah Clear was feeling noticeable enough already. The last thing she wanted was to be escorted off a plane in front of 150 passengers.

Clear, 33, had flown to Auckland from Wellington with Jetstar last month to visit a friend in hospital.

Unbeknown to her, she was in breach of Jetstar's policy on pregnant passengers because she had not obtained a clearance letter from a doctor or midwife.

But no staff member raised any concerns with her, and she had no reason to believe she could not fly back to Wellington four days later.

So she checked in and boarded the plane on August 27.

But, after sitting down, she was approached by a flight attendant who asked if she was pregnant.

A manager then boarded the plane and told Clear that she would have to get off.

In tears, and not wanting to delay a plane full of passengers, she left and called her husband and mother.

"I didn't have the balls to stop a full flight from leaving on time," she said. "There was no chance to have a proper discussion."

After the flight left, she managed to reach her midwife, who told the Jetstar manager she was fine to fly, but the airline told her a verbal confirmation was not acceptable.

So instead she caught an Air New Zealand flight home without any difficulty.

Clear was upset the airline had not enforced its policy on her first flight.

"I have argued black and blue with them that if they're going to stick to a policy, they must stick with it both ends. You can't strand me in Auckland."

If Jetstar had told her about the need for a letter from her midwife when she arrived for her flight in Wellington, it could have been arranged, she said.

Jetstar's policy requires passengers who are more than 28 weeks pregnant to carry a letter from a doctor or midwife confirming the estimated delivery date, whether it is a single or multiple birth, and details of any complications.

It forbids travel after 40 weeks for uncomplicated single pregnancies, or after 36 weeks for multiple pregnancies.

Air NZ allows passengers to fly up to the 38th week for single pregnancies, or 32 weeks for multiple ones.

Jetstar spokesman Phil Boeyen said the company apologised for any inconvenience. It refunded Clear's ticket to Wellington and gave her a $50 travel voucher.

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- The Dominion Post

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