In the current climate of airline controversy and questionable service it’s always great to hear a good news story that restores your faith in humanity and reminds you that ‘caring’ is contagious.

A year ago Etihad Airways was highly praised for literally going “above and beyond” when a plane was turned around at Manchester Airport to allow an elderly couple to visit their dying grandson.

The English couple, who were preparing to fly to Australia via Abu Dhabi found out about their grandson’s tragic situation only after they had boarded the flight.

The couple’s Travel Agent, Becky Stephenson, a Travel Counsellor from Bradford in England’s North said they were switching off their mobile phone when they noticed a missed call from their son-in-law.


Becky Stephenson, Travel Counsellors, UK

“They were taxiing on the runway when they got the text message saying their grandson was in intensive care and they needed to get there,” said Stephenson.

The couple informed the crew, who spoke to the captain, who then turned the plane back to the boarding gate, Stephenson said.

At the same time, airline staff arranged to get the couple’s baggage and assisted them back through the airport.

The couple’s car was collected from the car park and taken to arrivals so they could drive off straightaway.

The flight still went ahead after the couple got off.

Unfortunately, their grandson died the following day on March 31.

Mrs Stephenson called the incident “very unusual”.

“I’ve been in the travel business for 25 years” and had not heard of an airline going “above and beyond with their customer service” in such a way, she said.

“My customers were so grateful that staff were very helpful and they were taken care of.”

Indeed, Travel Counsellor Stephenson was so blown away that she sent a message to Etihad’s sales manager to praise the staff.

“It was such a sad thing that happened to my clients, but it was lovely that Etihad was able to help in the way they did. They were on their way to Abu Dhabi so if they hadn’t been able to get off the plane they would not have made it back in time.

“I contacted them to give my condolences and they said they were going to contact Etihad as well.”

The couple were also told that that they could use the ticket on a different date, Stephenson added, but “my customers are not thinking of when they’re flying back out again”.

When the incident happened, the story went viral with a Social media outburst of positivity, and a year on it’s doing the same again. No doubt inspired by the recent United fall out and opposing Social media backlash they are enduring.

Ironically, the word ‘Etihad’ in Arabic actually means ‘Unity’ or ‘United’.

Source: Evening Standard, UK

Did you hear about this story? Or have you heard a similar story of amazing care and customer service? Share your thoughts below.