We expect airlines to be heartless. They’re a business, not a charity. But this display from Swiss Airlines goes beyond the normal bounds of hard-headedness.
Violinist Joanna Watts is giving three weeks of her life to help children with terminal cancer. Swiss Airlines is the best available route to her destination. But they are making her trip impossible with outrageous last-minute ransom demands. Here’s what we’re told by Joanna’s partner, Chris Fish.
Dear Norman, my partner Joanna Watts is a professional violinist based in London. This year she has organised, through the charity Children in Crossfire, to travel alone to Dar Es Salaam to give music and art workshops for terminally ill children.
Many of Jo’s colleagues from English National Opera and the BBC concert orchestra among others have donated small percussion instruments, toys and facepaints etc. Jo has two cases full of these donations and letters of verification from the charity. Swiss International airlines, being the only carrier to allow two cases to Dar, became the obvious choice for Jo despite the convoluted 15 hour trip! However, when we approached Swiss re excess baggage they told Jo it would amount to £115 per bag. We asked for leniency due to the cause but they said they couldn’t help.
They have contacted us today to explain that they miscalculated. The excess would actually be nearly £500 for the two cases. We again asked if they could help as this is a once in a lifetime trip for Jo which has already cost her dearly, and that the excess alone is her budget for the three week stay working with the nurses and children.
They again were immovable. I tried to contact them by email, but to no avail. Who, we wonder, can we approach for help? We are NOT asking for financial donations just a kind ear from Swiss. Best Chris Fish
Right. So here’s what you can do:
1 If you’re in the air travel business, pester Swiss or offer Joanna a better flight package.
2 If you’re in Swiss or travel media, report the hell out of this story. You can reach Chris and Joanna on Facebook. Bombard the Swiss PRs.
3 If you’re a regular flier, tell Swiss you won’t use them again until they soften up.
UPDATE…. UPDATE….. UPDATE….. Now click here for the happy landing.