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Passenger claims she was threatened with being booted from Virgin Australia flight

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A WAR of words has erupted between Virgin Australia and a passenger who claims she was threatened with being booted from a flight.

Katie Kolenberg was travelling with her partner Jeremy Byrnes and their five-month-old daughter August yesterday when their flight between Canberra and Cairns was delayed.

They were due to board a 12.30pm flight but had to be reassigned to a different aircraft due to significant delays, Katie told The Daily Telegraph. The new flight was scheduled for five hours later, seeing them land at their destination at 10.30pm.

Katie claims that when she attempted to seek assistance from the crew, she found them less than helpful and even downright rude.

“We had no easy means of getting back home because we needed a taxi with a car seat for our baby — not a simple thing,” Katie told news.com.au.

“Virgin wouldn’t give us two taxi vouchers there and back either. So staying at the airport seemed the simplest choice. So we asked if we could have lounge access so we could at least be comfortable and eat and feed our baby for the day.”

She said their requests were denied, and that it took tears before they were offered any assistance from the airline at all — and it came in the form of a food voucher.

“It was well over an hour before we were offered any help and that came in the form of a $32 meal voucher. That’s after I asked to speak to a manager twice and we stood waiting next to the service desk for over an hour.”

The passenger claims they were the only family in that situation and it was a very quiet day at the airport so it should have been easy to accommodate their requests — the other flyers were adults travelling without children.

“They weren’t just dismissive, they were downright rude to us. All we asked for was a bit of help. We were also the only customer in this situation … Anyone with a small baby knows it’s not just as simple as sitting down for five hours in an airport gate and waiting.”

The most shocking part of the story was the alleged response to Katie commenting to a staff member that she would post on social media to see if that would get a more favourable response from the airline.

“They threatened us with being removed from our flight if we posted about our treatment on social media,” Katie said.

However, a Virgin Australia spokesperson told news.com.au all is not as it seems; claiming Katie had been abusive towards staff and denying the social media threat.

“We understand delays can be frustrating to our guests and we do everything we can to avoid them, however Virgin Australia does not tolerate guests being abusive towards our staff. “Virgin Australia welcomes all feedback from our guests including feedback received on social media.”

When contacted by news.com.au to respond to Virgin’s claims, Katie was shocked. She fiercely denies the allegations, however she does admit to becoming frustrated.

“I was not in any way abusive,” Katie said. “All we did is request some assistance for the difficult situation we were placed in.

“And when it was denied and the staff member could not even be nice to us, I got a little frustrated. I did not call names, swear or shout. I was holding my baby at the time. I was upset and worried about what we would do and the first two female staff members we spoke to didn’t even know how to be nice.

“The third staff member, a male, who came to help us after we stood next to the service desk for over an hour was finally nice to us.

“I am a decent person that just wanted some help in a difficult situation.”

Katie also said she was disappointed to have heard nothing from the airline following the incident.

“I would never in a million years abuse someone like that. I’m so upset. And that tweet is the only response we’ve had from Virgin. They haven’t contacted us directly at all.

“I’m deeply hurt that they would try and spin that I was abusive. And now that the story is out there, and Virgin are implying that we were at fault, what’s going to happen on the way home? Will they single us out … because we spoke out?”

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