NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Jill Levy-Fisch of Tarrytown, New York, says she packed a carry-on bag with her daughter's numerous medications and medical devices for their family vacation to Canada last month.
She also called United Airlines' disabilities number to make sure they would be able to carry the bag on the flight. Jill says the disabilities phone line says the airline must allow you on to the flight with the medications in the plane's cabin.
She says she has followed this process dozens of times because her daughter Sara, 22, has Lyme disease and several other autoimmune diseases and must have the medications with her on flights. The medications must be temperature-controlled and the carry-on bag has a tag indicating medical equipment.
But Jill says the United gate agent at Newark Airport told them to empty the suitcase, carry the medications and supplies on them, and check the suitcase because it was too big to fit in the overhead bins. She says she tried to explain to the gate agent that she called the disabilities line but he kept cutting her off.
So Jill talked to the flight attendant with ExpressJet, a regional carrier for United Airlines. But she said the attendant berated them and said "You don't want to mess with the flight crew."
Jill says her daughter could not fly without her medications so she left the airport. Jill says she had to board the flight to Canada because she needed to pick up some medications that were already there and being stored for her.
Fox 5 contacted United Airlines, which says it has apologized to Jill and her daughter and refunded her daughter's ticket as a "gesture of goodwill."
"We've also reached out to our partners at ExpressJet, who operated the flight, and our team in Newark to review the way this situation was handled," United spokesperson Maddie King said in a statement.
Jill says that airlines have always stored the carry-on with the medications in a closet. But in this case, she says ExpressJet didn't offer that option until after her daughter had left the terminal.
I read Jill the statement Fox 5 received from ExpressJet: "When your flight attendant was made aware that the customer's bag contained medical items, he attempted to find a solution that would allow her to travel with the items in the cabin including stowing her bag in a galley closet. The customer opted not to travel with us."
Jill says she was "stunned" to hear the statement and said the airline is lying.
"That offer was never made initially," she says. "We wouldn't be having this conversation right now."
Jill is hoping that coming forward will prevent others with disabilities from going through the same experience.