A patient scheduled to travel to India for specialised treatment was stranded at the airport after she was ejected from a plane.
Wangari Ndumia, 25, was stuck at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday after she was whisked out of the plane together with her sister following an argument on whether she was fit to fly.
Ms Ndumia suffers from a severe bone infection after being involved in a road accident in Mombasa in 2017. She had been referred to BLK Hospital in New Delhi.
According to an authorisation letter signed by a Dr Samson Kuhora, the National Hospital Insurance Fund had offered to pay Sh500,000 for her treatment.
“NHIF has reviewed this case and is undertaking to pay up to Sh500,000, which is equivalent of $4,921 for the procedure, including investigations related to the primary reason for travel,” read the letter.
But while her sister Ann Ndumia insisted that she was stable enough to take the flight, with a stop-over in Abu Dhabi before connecting to New Delhi, officials of the airline said she was not fit to fly.
The two had already boarded the plane and were waiting for flight attendants to allocate them a seat with enough leg room.
However, when all passengers had boarded, a call came through to the plane, after which two security officers got on board and instructed the two siblings to disembark.
According to her sister, this was the second time Ms Ndumia was being denied a chance to travel. The first was on Tuesday last week when a different airline refused to check her in.
She claimed the first airline to reject them did not refund the Sh116,870 they had paid to book the flight.
The airline, however, blamed a local booking agent for the fiasco.
In an email seen by The Standard and addressed to the agent, the airline states that Ndumia needed medical clearance.
“For all medical reasons travel you ought not to issue tickets before medical clearance with a ‘fit to fly’ remark,” read the email.
On cash refund, the airline wrote: “Kindly note your ticket was within 24 hours we cannot cancel, only airport taxes can be reversed and credit note issued under the same passenger names. No cash fund is given... You may cancel the inbound flight.”
After this mail, Ndumia’s sister says she went back to the agent to try secure another flight, and was instructed to pay another Sh50,000.
She only had Sh25,000 and reached an agreement that she would pay the rest once she was back from India.
The agent then booked the two sisters in the second flight that was scheduled to depart on Sunday afternoon for New Delhi.
According to the two sisters, the agent had all the papers right, including a medical certificate signed by a doctor associated with the airline.
Ndumia’s flight ticket was also clearly labeled “Wheelchair all the way seat-confirmed.”
But when all passengers had boarded, Ann and her ailing sister were instructed to leave the plane on grounds she was not fit to fly.
“We called Medilink, which is the global agent on medical issues, and they said she was not fit to travel,” said an official from the airline, who also said that Ndumia was screaming when she was being assisted to board.
She is sick
“But she is sick. What did they expect her to do?” posed Ann.
Her booking agent told The Standard all the paper work for the flight had been done.
“I even have emails that authorised the bookings,” he said.
The airline, through one of its social media accounts, said: “I can’t advise on this without knowing the background. You can ask the guest (patient) to contact us and we can assist in clarifying the documents that would be needed to board.”
The family, however, says it has exhausted almost all the cash it had after spending up to Sh141,870.