Airline rapped for insensitive error to Wisbech family
An airline has apologised and launched an internal investigation after writing to a widow’s late husband – wishing him a “speedy recovery”.
Ryanair also asked Kevin Mitchell to submit a hospital or doctor’s letter when his grieving wife tried to cancel his flight – despite her sending a copy of his death certificate.
To make matters worse, the airline sent the email request on what would have been the market trader’s 56th birthday.
The couple’s son, the Rev Anthony Mitchell, has branded the mistake “infuriating” and “insensitive”.
Mr Mitchell and his wife Gay, of Pickards Way, Wisbech, were due to fly with Ryanair to the Canary Islands on May 30.
But Mr Mitchell, who was a trader at GKM Watches for two years, died on March 25 after suffering a heart attack.
Mrs Mitchell contacted Ryanair earlier this month to cancel her late husband’s flight and to request a refund in order for her son to accompany her on the trip instead.
Rev Mitchell helped his mother complete Ryanair’s relevant online forms and emailed the customer service department a copy of his father’s death certificate as requested. Mrs Mitchell got an automated reply to say it had been received, and last week she got a letter in the post addressed to her husband.
It read: “Dear Mr Mitchell,
“It is with regret that we have learned of your reasons for contacting us on this occasion. On behalf of Ryanair, I am sorry to learn of the circumstances which will prevent you from travelling.
“In order for us to review your case and to consider any form of refund or credit, I kindly request that you submit a hospital/doctors letter.
“I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a speedy recovery.
“Yours sincerely, Ryanair Customer Service Department.”
Rev Mitchell, from Bar Hill, near Cambridge, said: “To ask my dead father for a hospital letter and to wish him a speedy recovery is just appalling and wholly insensitive. If my mother wasn’t grieving enough, she then has this to deal with as well. It’s just infuriating. I can appreciate it’s an error, but they had his death certificate.”
A Ryanair email, sent to Mrs Mitchell just hours after the Citizen contacted them, said an investigation had been launched to “ensure such unsatisfactory and insensitive responses are not repeated.”
The £150.98 cost of the flight was also refunded.
Ryanair said: “We have sincerely apologised to the customer for this administrative error and have fully resolved this issue. The agent in question has undergone training to prevent a re-occurrence.”
Mr Mitchell, who is also survived by daughter Carrie-Ann Caseley and her children Jack and Olivia, was a medically retired Lance Corporal of the Territorial Army, and worked at Buildbase before suffering a stroke six year ago.
His brother-in-law Garry Monger will continue the watch stall, which operates in Wisbech, Downham Market and King’s Lynn.
Mr Mitchell’s family thanked the Wisbech Monday Club, where he was a member, for all their support and catering at his wake. They also thanked a man who tried to revive Mr Mitchell using CPR when he had the heart attack. “We don’t know his name and are unable to locate him.”