Family of 3-Year-Old With Cancer Begs Airline to Hold Flight. Agent Refuses & Shuts Door


Traveling by plane can be a hassle even when you’re on your own. The more dependents you add to your party of one, the more of a hassle it becomes.

When Talia Tallman got to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport with her family last Monday, things looked like they were going to be okay.

There were three adults present (herself, her husband, and her mother Adrienne Becker), which meant one adult to look out for each of the three kids.

All three kids were under 10 years of age. Eden was the youngest at two years old, Escher was three, and Eversmith was eight. Six is a large group to travel with, but the Tallmans had little choice.

When they got through the nightmare that is security, they found out that their gate had been changed to a location much farther than they had originally anticipated, and the scramble began.

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Becker went ahead, planning to let the airline, Spirit, know that the others were just around the corner and would be there in a moment.

But by the time Becker made it to the gate, the airline said it was too late. Talia Tallman recalled the madness that ensued.

“She was explaining, ‘Please wait. My family is just coming up from security, it’s just going to take them a little bit longer to get here,'” Tallman later said.

“She said, ‘Please wait for us because my grandson has an appointment the very next day with his surgeon.'”

That’s right. Escher, the 3-year-old boy, had a very rare form of soft tissue cancer. The spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma was discovered when doctors noticed a lump on the boy’s neck.

The family had been living in California where they could get the specialized treatment Escher needed, and they’d visited their home in Florida before returning to the west coast.

The problem now was two-fold. First, if they didn’t catch this flight, Escher wouldn’t be able to make his appointment the next day in L.A. Second, the family had packed the boy’s pain medication in their luggage, and it was already on the plane.

And that plane was leaving without them.

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Tallman claims that Spirit told them that they could only wait 30 seconds before they closed the gate, because of their policy: the gates closed 15 minutes before takeoff, which was at 9:00.

Spirit Airlines denies this, saying that they waited a full 13 minutes after normal closing time. The gates were supposed to close at 8:45 and they kept them open until 8:58, but there was still no sign of the family.

The airline stated that “Our records show they were not present at the gate when the flight closed. Our team made every effort to hold the flight for as long as possible. Ultimately, the flight had to take-off to ensure a timely arrival for our other guests waiting on board.”

Obviously, no family wants to be put in this kind of situation, but Tallman is still adamant that they were wronged by the airline even though she also admitted that they were late.

“They showed literally zero compassion,” she said. “That was really what was so upsetting to me is these people were being so heartless when they had the opportunity to make a big difference in our lives by letting us on the plane.”

Fortunately, Spirit was able to get them a flight out on Wednesday and the family was able to reschedule the critical appointment for Escher. Still, it was an unwanted complication for a family who had already experienced enough this year.

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