Terrifying ordeal of cancer patient 'denied oxygen by easyJet staff on a four-and-half hour flight'
Annette Townend believed she was going to die on flight to CyprusPleas for oxygen fell on deaf ears – she even wrote a note in despairDoctors have told Mrs Townend she is lucky to be alive after ordeal
22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012
A cancer patient endured a terrifying ordeal believing she was going to die after being refused oxygen on a holiday flight to Cyprus, she claims.
Annette Townend, 56, says she boarded the easyJet plane late and gasping for air after being stopped from using a pre-booked wheelchair.
Shortly after take-off, she told a steward ‘oxygen, oxygen’, only to be informed that it was ‘for emergencies only’.
Help: Anette Townend was forced to write on a piece of paper 'I cant breathe need oxygen dying'
She became so desperate after having an asthma attack she scribbled the message ‘I can’t breathe need oxygen dying’ on a piece of paper and put it on the seat next to her.
Apart from a disabled woman behind her, she said no one showed concern for her plight.
She got through the four-and-a-half hour journey from Manchester, but says she was left in such a state that she ended up in hospital with pneumonia.
Recalling the ordeal, she said: ‘I was absolutely gasping for air, I couldn’t breathe and I have never been so frightened in my life. I really thought I was going to die. The higher the plane went the worse my breathing got. It was pure purgatory.
‘My doctor told me later I am lucky to be alive. The attitude of the easyJet stewards was disgusting.’
The airline dismissed the criticism, claiming Mrs Townend had declined wheelchair assistance at the airport and had agreed to cope without oxygen.
However, the widow, who owns a family laundry business, is furious and is considering legal action.
Clear conscience Easyjet have denied any wrongdoing – which has forced Mrs Townend into considering legal action
Mrs Townend, from Baildon, West Yorkshire, has been undergoing chemotherapy for bowel cancer and hoped the ten-day trip to see a friend in Cyprus would help her recovery. She said wheelchair assistance had been booked for both legs of the 190 return trip to Paphos.
But a 15-minute delay caused by security staff checking the medication in her hand luggage meant that when she arrived at the wheelchair assistance desk, no one was there.
She was forced to walk across the terminal, dragging her bag behind her.
She said she became ‘hysterical’ when her name was called out on the tannoy to urgently go to the gate.
'I was wheezing, breathless and angry when I got there and the flight was ten minutes late because it took me so long,’ she said.
‘I wrote the note when the passenger behind me asked what was wrong. The stewards must have seen it on the chair but they did nothing.’
A spokesman for the airline insisted yesterday that ‘special assistance’ staff collected Mrs Townend from the airport shopping area when she was in difficulty.
She added: ‘EasyJet’s highest priority is the health and safety of all on board. Our cabin crew spoke to Mrs Townend in detail to ensure her comfort and agreed with her that she was content to continue the flight without requiring the oxygen.
‘Whilst we feel our crew made every effort to look after Mrs Townend’s needs, we would like to apologise for any distress that was experienced.’