easyJet selects three-year-old girl for involuntary offloading after airline overbooked flight

Exclusive: Airline sold more tickets than seats from Palma to Liverpool, then assigned Chloe Meacock to a seat well away from her family


Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 25 June 2019 17:56 BST
easyJet selects three-year-old girl for involuntary offloading after airline overbooked flight

A three-year-old girl from Chester was selected for involuntary offloading from an easyJet flight after the airline overbooked it.

Chloe Meacock had been on a Thomas Cook package holiday to Mallorca with her parents, Claire Quick and Chris Meacock, and her 18-month-old sister Charlotte. The trip included flights on easyJet.

Thomas Cook advised them to check in ahead of reaching the Palma airport before the flight home to Liverpool, but the family were unable to do so.

Ms Quick said: “When we got to the airport they told us that because we hadn’t checked in online they had re-sold Chloe’s seat and that she might not fly.

“Then the check-in manager rejigged things so that it was my husband who was overbooked.”

Once everyone else had been boarded there was a seat empty and Mr Meacock was finally allowed on the plane.

But before the flight could depart, another check-in problem had to be solved.

While Ms Quick and her baby were allocated seats at the rear of the plane, three-year-old Chloe was assigned a seat on her own at the front. As Civil Aviation Authority rules require, easyJet cabin crew had to move other passengers so the family could sit together.

The holiday paperwork seen by The Independent makes it clear that three-year-old Chloe is a child.

As a scheduled airline, easyJet is free to sell more tickets than there are seats available on the plane. Many airlines practise overbooking, but European air passengers’ rights rules require them to seek volunteers before selecting people to offload against their will.

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Although Ms Quick and her family travelled on their flight, we are sorry if it was not communicated clearly at bag drop that volunteers would always be sought at the gate if sufficient seats were not available. We are looking into this with our ground handling partners at Palma airport.

“Once onboard the cabin crew arranged seating together for the family.

“We do our best to look after young families, including providing regular and specific information encouraging them to check in online as early as possible so they can be seated together before arriving at the airport. We also send this information to third party bookers, including Thomas Cook and ask them to share this with customers.”

When tour operators such as Thomas Cook sell packages with “third-party” airlines doing the flying, there is usually an understanding that their customers will not be involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: “We are very sorry that Mrs Quick and her family experienced this issue on their return flight and have asked easyJet to look into what happened.”

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