Family of 3-year-old battling cancer said Spirit Airlines left them behind

FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida family with a 3-year-old battling cancer said Spirit Airlines employees refused to let them on board after missing their flight by minutes.

The Tallman family said Spirit did not let them board since they arrived five minutes late to the departure gate. The flight was supposed to take the family from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles on Monday.

“They wouldn’t let us in,” said mother Talia Tallman.

The family, who was flying out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said they fell behind after they found out their gate had changed to a much further location.

“They can’t help us at all,” said Talia.

The Tallman family said this flight was important for 3-year-old Escher Tallman, who was diagnosed with a rare, soft-tissue cancer called spindle cell rhabdomyosarcoma.

The family sought treatment at UCLA Health, and Escher had an important appointment on Tuesday.

To make matters worse, the Tallman family said Escher’s pain medication was already on the flight.

Talia went to Facebook with her complaints. In a video, she acknowledged that she and her family were late for the flight but hoped Spirit would have had more mercy for her situation.

“It was really the way that we were treated by the employees that really felt so wrong to me,” said Talia. “They were just not interested at all in helping us or showing us even a little bit of compassion.”

Spirit Airlines issued a statement in response to the incident that reads, “While we are sorry for the inconvenience to this guest and her family, our records show they were not present at the gate when the flight closed. Our team made every effort to hold the flight and did so for more than 10 minutes. Ultimately, the flight had to take-off to ensure a timely arrival for our other guests waiting on board.”

The Tallman family said they eventually spoke to a Spirit flight agent, who agreed to transfer her flight to Wednesday. Doctors also agreed to re-schedule Escher’s appointment.

However, the family was not able to replace the pain medication that went with the missed flight.

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