A registered nurse claims she and her daughter were marched off a Jetstar flight and treated like “criminals” after she revealed she was suffering from shingles.
Louise Wardle disclosed her condition to airline check-in staff at Uluru airport, where she and her daughter had travelled in celebration of the schoolgirl’s 12th birthday.
“I know it’s not contagious, unless you have direct contact with the blisters, but as a courtesy I told them and requested as a precaution not to be seated near any pregnant women,” the Byron Bay mother told The Daily Telegraph.
“We were moved from the second row to the very back row then lots of scurrying around and then an announcement ‘Louise Wardle and Amelia Luckman make yourself known to the cabin crew’. We were then escorted off the plane in a walk of shame.”
Wardle says her daughter was left in tears by the incident.
“I was so embarrassed, everyone was staring at us like we were terrorists,” she said.
Shingles is an itchy, irritating skin rash caused by the chicken pox virus, and most commonly appears in people over the age of 50.
As Wardle noted, it’s only contagious with direct skin-to-skin contact with the blisters, which was highly unlikely given her rash was spread across her chest and she was fully clothed.
She argues that it’s a simple, common condition, the effects of which airline employees ought to be aware.
“I made it very clear to staff that more education is required for basic infections,” she said.
“I just made an honest comment as a courtesy, it was like we were back in the days of the grim reaper and AIDS. They let people on with cold sores, which is a similar virus but they don’t make them disembark.”
Louise thinks airline staff ought to be better trained on basic infections. Image: Facebook.
The Melbourne-bound plane was grounded for two hours while Wardle and her daughter's bags were removed, before the pair were reportedly left on the tarmac with nothing more than a bottle of water.
Still, Jetstar believes its staff made the right call.
In a statement issued to The Daily Telegraph, the company said: “This customer self-identified that she was recovering from shingles, and personally requested that our crew seat her away from children and pregnant women.
“Unfortunately, this customer was unable to provide official medical clearance and the Captain made the correct call to ask her to not travel until she could.”
Instead, Wardle was then forced to shell out $549 for last-minute accommodation and obtain a doctor's certificate permitting her to fly the following day.
But that wasn't the only cost.
“I had to buy a bottle of wine because I really needed a drink after that,” she said.