How far should airlines go to cater for celebrities and quasi-celebrities? A couple of cases over the holiday season have raised the question, with indignant celebs venting their fury on social media.
Comments indicate that a lot of people are siding with the airlines.
In the first example, Hollywood actor and Australian resident Russell Crowe was outraged when Virgin Australia refused to allow his children on a flight with their hoverboards. Hoverboards, the latest two-wheeled, must-have, kiddie Christmas accessories, are powered by lithium batteries – which occasionally burst into flames or explode. Because of that antisocial habit, international airlines throughout the world have banned hoverboards, and the bans have made headlines – but Crowe seems to have been unaware of it all.
Crowe cancelled his flight, called Virgin’s rule ridiculous and swore to never fly Virgin again.
At last report he was still fuming: “Shortly @VirginAustralia and @Virgin will try to convince you they can deal with the challenges of space flight … but not Segway boards.”
Responding to Crowe’s initial rant, Virgin Australia stated: “Hi Russell, due to safety concerns over the lithium ion batteries in hoverboards, these have been banned on all major Australian airlines and many around the world.
“We’re sorry you were not aware of this prior to check-in today.
“We hope to see you on board again soon.”
In another incident, WIN network reporter Jodi Lee ripped into Jetstar on Facebook after injuring her ankle on holiday in Thailand and finding that Jetstar refused to upgrade her to business class. Lee said Jetstar even made her pay for a pillow to elevate her leg and for a blanket.
“@JetstarAustralia I am appalled at your blatant disregard for customer service,” Lee wrote on the airline’s Facebook page. She illustrated her complaint with a pic of her bandaged leg.
Lee said four vacant seats were available in business class but Jetstar chose not to give one to her, despite a letter from doctors in Thailand and advice from a Sydney surgeon that she would need to keep her leg raised on the flight home.
Lee also said that “no lift arrived to help me safely disembark from the plane onto the tarmac” when she arrived.
“My travel partner [was] forced to push two suitcases and my wheelchair through customs,” she said.
“I understand you are a budget airline but surely concessions can be made for passengers clearly suffering injury or illness.”
Jetstar said it had arranged an empty seat next to Lee in economy class to make her flight more comfortable and had organised a wheelchair.
A quick glance at comments from other social media users suggests that Crowe and Lee have failed to gain widespread support. Many people feel that any passenger requiring an upgrade to business class should pay for it – or have insurance that covers it. Not a lot of people want to share their flights with celebrity hoverboards, either.
Written by Peter Needham