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Reporter shames airline for not upgrading her due to injury — is she right?

Taking a much-needed break from the daily grind is great, but what happens when you get hurt abroad?

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Australian television reporter Jodi Lee recently caught a flight on budget airline Jetstar, but it was not a pleasant one at all. According to, Lee had injured her Achilles tendon during a trip to Thailand and came on board with a doctor’s note indicating that she needed to keep her leg elevated, but the airline refused her request to be upgraded to business class.

Although the airline responded to the allegations in a lengthy statement to The New Zealand Herald, saying, “It’s disappointing that Ms Lee’s experience with us didn’t meet her expectations but our team did try to make her flight with us more comfortable.” They then went on to detail how they accommodated Lee’s injury.

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Limited mobility from an injury makes air travel much more complicated, and sometimes it’s not possible to reschedule your trip. But is your airline expected to upgrade you so you can sit in comfort instead of having small children trip over your cast (and cause you an incomprehensible amount of pain) while you’re stuck in economy?

Well, that largely depends on your airline.

Airplanes aren't obligated to upgrade you

According to the Daily Mail, if a passenger breaks their leg, there is usually an option to be upgraded. Almost two-thirds of airline staff surveyed by Skyscanner revealed that a passenger with a broken bone would be more likely to be upgraded free of charge.

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British Airways‘ website states that passengers travelling with a full leg cast “can travel in our First and Club World (business long haul) cabins that offer more legroom. To be able to travel in our other cabins you will need to buy an extra seat with moveable armrests so you can elevate your leg.”

While director of campaigns and communications at Matt Levey told The Huffington Post Australia that travellers are solely responsible for their injuries.

“Consumers need to take responsibility for any mishaps that happen when travelling. Don’t assume that travel providers, in particular airlines, are going to do you any favours,” Levey said. “If you don’t have travel insurance, you are at the mercy of the airline’s cancellation and rebooking policies. Depending on the category of your ticket, this might involve forfeiting most or all of your fare, and paying some significant extra fees.”

It appears that when injured, you are at the mercy of the airline, and they do not appear to be under any obligation to upgrade you. That’s why travel insurance is a must! But remember, the easiest way to get an upgrade is to just ask, and do so with a pleasant attitude.

Do you feel airlines should be obligated to upgrade passengers who have suffered injuries while on holiday? Or should they be expected to pay for such perks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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